- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The owners of the Mississippi-based Newk’s Eatery restaurants have sold a majority of the company to a New York investment firm.

Sentinel Capital Partners paid an undisclosed amount for the share of Newk’s Holding Co. in a sale that closed Monday, said Newk’s Vice President of Franchise Operations Alan Wright.

Newk’s founders Chris Newcomb, Don Newcomb and Debra Bryson will maintain a minority ownership. The three started Newk’s 10 years ago in Oxford, Miss., after creating the McAlister’s Deli chain and selling it. Chris Newcomb remains CEO.

Wright said Newk’s sought outside investors to raise money to grow faster, and he said Sentinel will invest money beyond what it paid for the ownership share to help Newk’s expand. Newk’s has nine company-owned and 58 franchised counter service restaurants.

“We’ve got some very aggressive growth plans,” he said.

The company has about 25 employees at its Jackson headquarters, and Wright said he expected more to be hired as the company grows.

Sentinel raises money from investors and buys shares in businesses, seeking to sell later for a profit. The private equity firm has $2.6 billion under management and has invested in a number of other restaurant operations in the past, including groups of franchised Taco Bell and Pizza Hut restaurants as well as the central franchising organizations of Checkers and Huddle House.

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