Hedge Fund Manager Intensely Focused On Bread

Fix your carb game, sayeth James Mitarotonda, and your fast casual restaurant will follow.
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By 3268zauber [CC BY-SA 3.0  or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

By 3268zauber [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

You might not guess it, but Barington Capital Management’s James Mitarotonda is an aficionado of fast casual restaurants. And when he goes to one, you can be sure he’s taking stock of the bread situation. When does it come? How much of it is there? Is it warm?

Four years ago, his partner-in-chain-restaurant-activism Starboard Value took Olive Garden to task for (among other things) handing out way too much free bread. If you think this means Mitarotonda discounts the importance of the world’s most basic foodstuff, think again: He doesn’t want to see the stuff tossed around devil-may-care and wasted—but he sure as hell doesn’t want something that isn’t going to melt butter.

“When customers sit down at their table at Texas Roadhouse, a server immediately presents them with warm, freshly baked bread,” Mitarotonda wrote to Bloomin’ CEO Elizabeth Smith.

“We believe this high level of service delights customers and also offers them immediate value,” he added.

Oh, and while they’re putting some appetizingly warm and fragrant rolls on CEO Elizabeth Smith’s plate, maybe take a few other things off it.

Barington Capital… prodded its corporate parent Bloomin’ Brands to spin off lesser-known chains such as Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s and Fleming’s.

The hedge fund, led by James Mitarotonda, first went after the Bloomin’ Onion maker and its chief executive, Elizabeth Smith, in February. On Monday, Mitarotonda reiterated the chairman and CEO roles should be separated.

Activist investor takes aim at Outback Steakhouse again [N.Y. Post]
Outback Steakhouse has a bread problem, investor says [N.Y. Post]

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