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Private equity fund buying Cincinnati-based Frisch’s

CINCINNATI (AP) — Frisch’s Big Boy restaurants are being sold to a private equity fund, the company announced Friday, which will end family operation of the Cincinnati-based chain that dates to a 1939 drive-thru.

Frisch’s Restaurants Inc. said NRD Partners I will buy all outstanding shares for $34 each, or some $175 million. Frisch’s shares closed Thursday at $28.12, and shot up nearly 19 percent to $33.50 in morning trading Friday.

The regional chain of the iconic Big Boy mascot and namesake two-burger sandwich owns some 95 family restaurants in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Its website states it has another 26 operated in the region by licensees. Frisch’s says its owns the “Big Boy” trademark in Kentucky and Indiana, and in most of Ohio and Tennessee.

CEO Craig Maier and marketing Vice President Karen Maier will retire, but the grandchildren of company founder David Frisch plan to continue as franchisees. With its restaurants facing increased competition from family dining options in recent years, Frisch’s availability for sale had been speculated about for months. The company went public in 1960.

“This is the culmination of over two years of strategic planning, and this is the right transaction for the company,” Craig Maier said in a statement. He said the deal will maximize shareholder value and “ensures the iconic Frisch’s restaurants can continue to provide a full-service family dining experience.”

The deal is expected to close by the end of September, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

Frisch’s last month reported $47 million in revenue for its fiscal third quarter, with 45 cents earnings per share.

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