First Watch breakfast
Source: First Watch Facebook

Casual Breakfast-and-Lunch Restaurant Company First Watch Is Going Public

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Sep. 20 2021, Published 10:06 a.m. ET

First Watch joined the ranks of restaurant companies seeking to go public in 2021 with the filing of its Form S-1 with the SEC on Sep. 7. The company intends to list for trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market when the IPO is completed.

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Other restaurant companies that have debuted on the stock market in 2021 are Dutch Bros and Krispy Kreme. Oregon-based coffee chain Dutch Bros began trading on the NYSE on Sep. 15, and donut company Krispy Kreme’s IPO was on Jul. 1. Will casual breakfast-and-lunch chain First Watch find success on the public market?

What to know about First Watch

First Watch Restaurant Group, Inc. is a chain of restaurants serving breakfast, lunch, and brunch to patrons. One of the brand's hallmarks is freshness—it says that “everything is made to order and freshness is never compromised.” It brings customers a full, fresh pot of coffee and makes all of its dishes fresh instead of using heat lamps or deep fryers.

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The company was founded in 1983 with its "You First” philosophy, which centers around the customer. This entails providing complimentary newspapers, substitutes for most items on the menu, and free WiFi. It aims to make visits to First Watch memorable.

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First Watch has won several awards for distinguished service and other attributes:

  • Best Places to Work by Business Intelligence Group.

  • Second 100 Restaurant Brand by Nation’s Restaurant News.

  • Top Family Dining Restaurant by Consumer Reports.

  • Top Consumer Pick by Nation’s Restaurant News.

  • Top Franchise Value by FSR Magazine.

  • Best Healthful Innovation (Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowl) by MenuMasters.

  • Next 20 Emerging Brand by Nation’s Restaurant News.

First Watch's financial details

In 2017, Advent International, a private equity company, acquired a majority stake in First Watch. As of Jun. 27, 2021, First Watch had expanded to 423 restaurants. During the first half of 2021, it opened 15 new owned units and 3 franchised units. In the past 12 months, it has had revenue of $490.27 million and net income of -$16.5 million.

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First Watch had 28 consecutive quarters of same-restaurant sales growth from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2019, and positive annual same-restaurant traffic growth between fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2019. In Jun. 2021, CEO Chris Tomasso spoke of the company’s efforts to design new restaurants to accommodate the growth of off-premises business while maintaining the company’s hallmark “integrity of the dining experience.”

First Watch IPO date, price, and stock symbol

The daytime café company has thus far only filed its initial paperwork with the SEC, and its Form S-1 doesn’t specify the date it plans to begin trading.

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The number of shares First Watch is offering isn't yet known, and the company hasn’t set an official price range for its IPO. However, the stock is expected to trade under the symbol “FWRG” on the Nasdaq. The offering's lead book-running managers are BofA Securities, Goldman Sachs, and Jefferies.

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