Sale of mighty Austin burger chain shakes up local restaurant scene

Sale of mighty Austin burger chain shakes up local restaurant scene

Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries & Shakes in Austin
The restaurateurs behind Tony C's Pizza and The League have purchased Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries & Shakes. Mighty Fine/Facebook

One of Austin’s most iconic burger joints has been scooped up by two Austin restaurateurs.

K&N Management has sold all four of its area locations of Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries & Shakes to Austin restaurant proprietors Tony Ciola and Creed Ford IV, best known for local concepts Tony C’s Pizza and The League Kitchen & Tavern.

“We have always been a fan of the concept, as well as the quality of food and service. Additionally, we have always been interested in various opportunities pre- and post-COVID-19, and when this opportunity presented itself, we knew we had to act quick,” Ford says.

In addition to selling off Mighty Fine, K&N has also sold its remaining restaurants — five Rudy’s Bar-B-Q franchises — back to Rudy’s corporate office, according to a story first reported in the Austin Business Journal.

The Mighty Fine sale, which was final as of December 31, 2020, represents a significant moment for the burger chain founded by K&N’s Ken Schiller and Brian Nolen in 2007. But this is not a case of how the mighty has fallen. Indeed, Ciola says it’s the concept’s overall success, particularly during a restaurant-destroying pandemic, that was appealing, along with Mighty Fine being a good fit for Ciola and Ford’s TC4 & Co. hospitality biz.

“Mighty Fine is a natural fit for TC4’s suburb-rooted brands,” Ciola says. “The fact that they performed well during COVID only supported our decision.”

Though Ciola and Creed operate Tony C’s and The League through TC4 & Co., they made the Mighty Fine purchase through a separate hospitality management company that will be solely dedicated to Mighty Fine.

“It is a newly created entity, and TC4 is a part owner,” Ford says. “Due to the quick turnaround of this deal, we didn’t have time to raise the capital within TC4, but the new entity is managed wholly by TC4.”

With expansion plans in mind for Mighty Fine this year and next in Austin and elsewhere in Texas, Ciola and Creed are fanning the flames for the burger chain while also continuing to grow their other restaurant concepts. Tony C’s, which opened its first location in 2009, now boasts two pizza parlors, in Bee Cave and Avery Ranch. The company also recently opened two Tony C’s Pizza & Beer Garden locations, one in Round Rock and one in the Allandale neighborhood. And the restaurateurs have plans to expand The League, which has three locations throughout Central Texas, with a new location later this year.

The TC4 & Co. partners say they will likely make some small changes to Mighty Fine due to the ownership change, but that burger fans shouldn’t notice much difference moving forward.

“They have a great operation and we want to sustain what they’ve built,” Ciola says.

Ford concurs, adding: “There will be no major changes within the brand. We have been fans of Mighty Fine for years and want to keep the level of food and service they have provided since 2007.”

K&N did not respond to requests for more info. But as for why K&N’s Schiller and Nolen decided to offload Mighty Fine and their Rudy’s franchises after years of success, Schiller indicated the move was brought on by the pair’s desire to retire, telling the ABJ they decided to sell the concepts because they are both in their 60s and that after they “received an attractive offer, everything just came together.”