Bob Evans CEO: Farm fest still on, no restaurants closing

Bob Evans CEO: Farm fest still on, no restaurants closing

Company officials take questions on fate of business

By Dean Wright

[email protected]

RIO GRANDE, Ohio — In a conference call with leading Bob Evans Farms Inc., representatives, Bob Evans Farms CEO Saed Mohseni confirmed the Bob Evans Farm Festival would still be hosted this fall at its traditional location in Rio Grande and no restaurants would be closing.

With the announcement that Bob Evans Restaurants would be sold to a private-equity firm called Golden Gate Capital for $565 million and assumption of liabilities up to $50 million Tuesday, Mohseni will continue to head up the Bob Evans Restaurant executive management.

“The farm really goes with our initial restaurant and since the restaurants are going with Golden Gate Capital, the (Rio Grande) farm goes with Golden Capital as well,” Mohseni said. “There is no plan for any major changes with the business. … Transactions happen all the time and this is like any other transaction. (Golden Gate Capital) is purchasing assets. … The farm happens to be part of the assets of the company. Our goal is to continue to operate as we have for the last 60 years providing high quality food and high quality service.”

Mohseni said business strategists would continue to evaluate every aspect of the business, but at the moment there was no plan to not hold the farm festival. Further, Mohseni said employees would be staying on and no restaurants would be closing.

“Golden Gate is purchasing the equity and the assets of Bob Evans (Restaurants) because of their belief in the brand, the people and the heritage that exists in Bob Evans,” Mohseni said. “I expect every guest to get quality food and service as they have for decades. If anything, we look forward to continuing to improve the operation.”

Mohseni said that he currently serves as the CEO of both the Bob Evans Restaurants side of the business as well as the BEF Foods side, but he would continue on with the restaurants as its executive leadership.

“The Golden Gate is the owner, just like today, we have many owners who are shareholders, but the management team is to operate the company,” said Mohseni. “(Golden Gate Capital) will own it. We’re going to manage it.”

According to Mohseni, the transaction was done to sell a more “mature” part of the company to invest in the “fastest growing and higher margin profit part of the business.”

“What’s ironic about this, we’re going back to where Bob Evans started the company, which is selling sausage,” said Mohseni about the business focus in refrigerated side dishes and store-bought sausage. “After 60 years, we’re back to where we got started. There is no financial issue with the organization. If anything, there is a tremendous amount of opportunity for both of the brands going forward.”

Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.

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