Whitecastle invests in sushi(3)

The private equity firm backed by Toronto’s Diamond family has invested in take-out sushi company Bento Nouveau.

Whitecastle Private Equity Partners, a Toronto-based private equity firm launched by the Diamond family, has invested an undisclosed amount in take-out sushi company Bento Nouveau.

The deal represents a chance to enter a “high-growth segment of North America's food industry”, said Whitecastle vice president, Michael Fricker, in a statement.

Sushi: in demand

Bento Nouveau was founded in 1996 and its 700-some employees serve more than 8 million servings of sushi per year. In Canada, the company has a delivery and on-site preparation system servicing more than 1,100 supermarket and institutional food service locations, as well as 26 food kiosks in shopping malls and office towers. Two years ago, Bento Nouveau commenced US operations and now operates 3 Manhattan store-front restaurants.

Whitecastle typically makes investments of C$5 million to C$25 million in businesses with enterprise values of between C$15 million and C$50 million. It launched a C$60 million fund in 2005 to make investments in healthcare services, financial services and manufacturing, though the fund’s mandate has apparently been widened to include food services, recycling and waste management, according to its website.

The fund’s limited partners include Canadian pensions and the Diamond family, which accumulated its through Cadillac Fairview Corporation, a commercial real estate development business founded by Ephraim Diamond and sold in 1987.

Whitecastle also manages venture capital investments through Whitcap Venture Partners.