After Selling Restaurant Empire For More Than $300 Million Last Summer, Sam Fox Launches GoFundMe To Support Out-Of-Work Staff

March 22, 2020

Sam Fox sold his Phoenix-based restaurant group for more than $300 million last summer, yet Fox Restaurant Concepts is asking for our help in supporting its employees and launched a GoFundMe with a $500,000 goal. This is after Fox Restaurant Concepts' parent company, The Cheesecake Factory Inc., announced that they would not be paying rent to any landlords for the month of April.

Sam Fox has owned more than 100 restaurants since dropping out of the University of Arizona when he was 20 years-old. The founder of Fox Restaurant Concepts, Fox is an eleven-time James Beard Award nominee for Restaurateur of the Year, and a New York Times best-selling cookbook author. Since launching in 1998, Sam Fox’s Fox Restaurant Concepts evolved to over a dozen different concepts. Last summer, the Cheesecake Factory purchased Fox Restaurant Concepts for $308 million - resulting in the sale of 45 restaurants across 7 states and Washington D.C.. The deal also included an additional $45 million to be due based on profitability over the next four years. The Cheesecake Factory company previously invested $88 million in the North Italia and Flower Child concepts over the last few years in anticipation of their purchase. Following the sale, North Italia’s operations moved to The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated’s corporate headquarters in Calabasas Hills, California to help scale the concept for national expansion. Fox Restaurant Concepts continues to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary led by Sam Fox from his headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona. Fox allegedly owns a home in Coronado and splits his time between San Diego and Arizona.

"At Fox Restaurant Concepts, the health and welfare of our guests and employees is our first priority," read the GoFundMe campaign Fox Restaurant Concepts' Team Relief Fund. "Even though it was heartbreaking, this week for the first time in our 22 year history, we needed to close our dining rooms and furlough many of our employees to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. What has been amazing is the kindness from our guests who have asked how you can help our furloughed employees."

Yesterday, it appears Sam Fox himself launched a GoFundMe campaign entitled, Fox Restaurant Concepts' Team Relief Fund, which has already raised more than $60,000 of its half million dollar goal. While Sam Fox pledges to match donations dollar for dollar (up to $250,000), some are finding it a bit tone deaf that such a prosperous restauranteur is asking for handouts during a time when everyone across the country is managing the ever-evolving fallout of an unprecedented global pandemic, especially in light of the fact that Fox Restaurant Concepts is owned by The Cheesecake Factory. In 2019, The Cheesecake Factory generated approximately 2.48 billion U.S. dollars in revenue worldwide, up from 2.33 billion the previous year. It was also reported this week that The Cheesecake Factory sent a letter to all of its landlords stating they would not be paying rent for the month of April due to "the severe decrease in restaurant traffic."

"Our guests have asked for a way to support their beloved hospitality and restaurant employees," wrote Fox Restaurant Concepts Vice President of Marketing Anita Walker. "It has been so incredible to hear about how much restaurant teams mean to people in our communities. This request to help has been offered to restaurants across the nation. We have responded by coordinating donation and fundraising efforts for affected employees. We are working with group of local restaurants in Arizona and launched #TakeoutforTeams whereby all donations made from customers picking up carryout meals at our combined 40 locations will go directly to our people affected and set up an online donation option. What has been amazing is the kindness from our guests who have asked how they can help our employees."

Fox opened his first San Diego-based restaurant, True Food Kitchen at Fashion Valley Mall, in summer 2012, before selling the concept in 2017 to an investor group that includes Oprah Winfrey as a member. Fox Restaurant Concepts also opened Flower Child in Del Mar in late 2016, Blanco Tacos + Tequila in Fashion Valley Mall in mid-2018, and North Italia in Fashion Valley Mall in fall 2018. A second location of North Italia opened in June 2019 in the One Paseo complex in Del Mar. Last August, Fox Restaurant Concepts also opened The Henry all day restaurant and bar within the Coronado space that previously housed Costa Azul for two decades.

Fox Restaurant Concepts reportedly employs over 4,000 people in nearly 50 locations that span across the United States. For more information, visit

This is a developing story: We will update this post as we learn more.