Founders of Squatters are buying back the label’s restaurants and Wasatch brewpubs

Fate of six restaurants was in limbo when Monster Beverage acquired the labels, but not the locations.

The founders of Squatters Brewery are buying back the six Utah restaurants and brewpubs that bear the Squatters and Wasatch names — removing uncertainty over the locations’ fate when a major beverage company acquired the beer labels.

PRC Restaurant Group, co-owned by Squatters Brewery founders Peter Cole and Jeff Polychronis, announced Thursday it is acquiring the parent company of Salt Lake Brewing Company — which owns the six restaurants and brewpubs under the Squatters and Wasatch brands.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The brands were part of CANarchy, a Colorado-based craft brewing collective. In mid-January, Monster Beverage Corporation — which owns the popular Monster Energy drink brand — acquired CANarchy, the beverage company’s first foray into the beer business. When Monster bought CANarchy, though, it was only for the beer labels, not the physical restaurants and taprooms.

“Peter and I have known for some time that that was a possibility there for that to happen because the focus of CANarchy was purely in breweries and not in restaurants,” Polychronis said. “So we talked to them a while back. There was moderate interest. Once they decided to do this deal with Monster, they became more motivated to do something with the restaurants as well.”

Cole and Polychronis put together an investment group — which included Sentry Financial, a Salt Lake City boutique investment firm, and some investors in Salt Lake City and Park City — and started negotiations in mid-December, Polychronis said. They signed a commitment letter on Jan. 14, and closed the deal Thursday. “It all happened very quickly,” Polychronis said.

The deal covers Six restaurants under the two labels: Squatters and Wasatch each have locations in Park City and the Salt Lake City International Airport; Squatters’ downtown Salt Lake City location at 147 W. 300 South; and Wasatch’s Sugar House brewpub at 2110 S. Highland Drive. Also in the deal is Craft Cafe, a central kitchen west of the airport.

(Rick Egan | Salt Lake Tribune file photo) Wasatch Brew Pub in Sugarhouse, Thursday, December 4, 2014.

Not included in the deal is the co-labeled West Side Tavern at 1763 S. 300 West.

Under the deal, all of those locations will remain open, and retain all 300 of its current employees. The restaurants and brewpubs will continue to serve Squatters and Wasatch beers — though now the restaurants have to purchase them from Monster.

Monae Madson, who had been vice president of brewpubs and taprooms, will be the new CEO for Salt Lake Brewing Company.

Wasatch is Utah’s oldest microbrewery, founded in 1986. Cole and Polychronis founded Squatters in 1989. The sold Salt Lake Brewing Company to CANarchy in 2012.

“So it’s come full circle,” Polychornis said. “We didn’t want [the locations] to go away, or for them not to be what they are, so we thought we were the best people to do this.”

Having an investment group that’s entirely local is important, Polychronis said, because “Squatters and Wasastch have both historically been very community oriented, both in Park City and in Salt Lake City. I think maybe that’s gotten lost a little bit over the last few years with out-of-state ownership and big corporate ownership. So we’re committing to get back to our roots and continue our community involvement and make this truly a local company again.”