Judges’ investment in Soul Daddy, Chipotle’s cash for America’s Next Great Restaurant revealed

One of the greatest mysteries of America’s Next Great Restaurant is exactly how much money the show’s four judges actually invested in the restaurant, Soul Daddy, which just closed its final location after just two months. If Bobby Flay, Curtis Stone, and Lorena Garcia all invested the same amount of money as Chipotle founder Steve Ells, the answer is $220,000.

Along with that, Chipotle gave $2.3 million to be the show’s prize sponsor, meaning the restaurant’s parent company, ANGR Holdings, had more than $3 million. Those numbers come from Chipotle’s SEC filing, which says:

“Agreements with ANGR Holdings, LLC: We have agreed to be the prize sponsor for the network television program ‘America’s Next Great Restaurant.’ In that capacity we have made agreed to make cash contributions totaling $2.3 million to ANGR Holdings, LLC, the entity that will operate the restaurants to be awarded as a prize on the program, in exchange for an equity interest in the entity. We have also agreed to provide a variety of corporate and administrative services to the entity in connection with its operations. Our founder, Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Steve Ells, serves as a judge on the America’s Next Great Restaurant program, and as part of the terms of his involvement with the program is a co-investor in ANGR Holdings. We intend to purchase Mr. Ells’s interest in ANGR Holdings from Mr. Ells during 2011 for $220 thousand, the amount of the cash contribution originally made by Mr. Ells.”

Portfolio reported on that section of the filing and cites a source who says “everyone was led to believe the four judges-investors … had each contributed the same amount,” meaning that all together the restaurant had over $3 million, and “many experts in the industry agree that a minimum of $2 mil could have kept three Soul Daddy’s operating for about six months.”

Why did it close, then? No one is talking yet. But L.A. Weekly breaks down why it thinks the restaurant failed. Among the reasons: its bad locations, awful food, bland concept, and Steve Ells himself (“no Midas touch”).

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.