Mercato Partners, a private equity firm that provides capital and guidance to brands in periods of high growth has hired restaurateur James Park to the firm’s Savory Fund Practice as an operating partner.

This appointment follows the recent closing of Savory Fund II, a $100 million investment vehicle devoted to backing emerging and profitable restaurant concepts.

Most recently, Park led Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, a leading Denver-based Mediterranean fast-casual brand, as chief executive officer from 2015 through its sale to Centre Lane Partners in 2020.

“We are fortunate to welcome to Savory one of the best operators in the restaurant industry, James Park,” said Andrew K. Smith and Greg Warnock, managing partners of the Savory Funds. “From the beginning of our discussions, it was clear that we view the industry similarly and that our combined ideas and philosophy of unlocking maximum value in exciting new brands are completely aligned. James’ track record of success will be a tremendous resource to our team as we continue to grow our current portfolio and add new and exciting brands in Fund II.”

“I am thrilled to be joining Savory, who is fast becoming the leading financial sponsor for early stage emerging brands in the food and beverage industry,” said Park. “In just a few years, they have built an enviable track record with five incredible companies, and I am excited to support the firm’s existing portfolio brands, identify new brands and help build out many more.”

“The Savory team and I are strongly aligned in the execution of our strategy – everything from financing, design, operations, customer experience and most importantly, how to treat employees,” added Park. “Savory was able to navigate through the pandemic without laying off or furloughing a single team member, which speaks volumes to their priorities. I am a big believer in the Savory playbook for growth and operational excellence, and I look forward to hitting the ground running.”