SOURCE: Meritage Hospitality Group Inc.

August 20, 2007 09:23 ET

Meritage Engages Stifel Nicolaus for Financial Advisory Services

GRAND RAPIDS, MI--(Marketwire - August 20, 2007) - Meritage Hospitality Group Inc. (PINKSHEETS: MHGU), one of the nation's premier hospitality companies and only publicly traded Wendy's and O'Charley's restaurant franchisee, announced that the Company's Board of Directors has engaged Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, as its exclusive financial and strategic advisor to assist the Company in evaluating strategic options.

"Consistent with our previously stated goals, we have engaged Stifel Nicolaus to investigate and advise the Company on value-creating alternatives," said Robert E. Schermer Jr., Meritage's Chief Executive Officer and President. "We believe that Stifel Nicolaus' in-depth coverage of the restaurant industry makes them well qualified to assist Meritage in achieving our short-term and long-term goals," Mr. Schermer added. Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, a subsidiary of Stifel Financial Corp. (NYSE: SF), is a nationally recognized, full service investment banking firm specializing in capital raising, advisory, merger and acquisition related services.

There is no assurance that retaining Stifel Nicolaus as a strategic advisor will result in any transaction being consummated. In addition, the steps announced today do not preclude the possibility of the Company pursuing other strategic alternatives in the future.

Meritage is one of the nation's premier franchise operators, currently operating 53 restaurants in two brands; Wendy's in the QSR Segment and O'Charley's in the Casual Dining Segment.


Certain statements contained in this news release that are not historical facts constitute forward-looking statements which may be identified by words such as "estimates," "anticipates," "projects," "plans," "expects," "believes," "should," and similar expressions, and by the context in which they are used. Such statements are based only upon current expectations of the Company. Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date made. Reliance should not be placed on forward-looking statements because they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied. Meritage undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date on which they are made.

Statements concerning expected financial performance, business strategies and action which Meritage intends to pursue to achieve its strategic objectives, constitute forward-looking information. Implementation of these strategies and achievement of such financial performance are subject to numerous conditions, uncertainties and risk factors, which could cause actual performance to differ materially from the forward-looking statements. These include, without limitation: competition; changes in the national or local economy; changes in consumer tastes and eating habits; concerns about the nutritional quality of our restaurant menu items; concerns about consumption of beef or other menu items due to diseases including E. coli, hepatitis, and mad cow; promotions and price discounting by competitors; severe weather; changes in travel patterns; road construction; demographic trends; the cost of food, labor and energy; the availability and cost of suitable restaurant sites; the ability to finance expansion; interest rates; insurance costs; the availability of adequate managers and hourly-paid employees; directives issued by the franchisor regarding operations and menu pricing; the general reputation of Meritage's and its franchisors' restaurants; the relationship between Meritage and its franchisors; legal claims; and the recurring need for renovation and capital improvements. In addition, Meritage's expansion into the casual dining restaurant segment as a franchisee of O'Charley's will subject Meritage to additional risks including, without limitation, unanticipated expenses or difficulties in securing market acceptance of the O'Charley's restaurant brand, the ability of our management and infrastructure to successfully implement the O'Charley's development plan in Michigan, and our limited experience in the casual dining segment. Also, Meritage is subject to extensive government regulations relating to, among other things, zoning, public health, sanitation, alcoholic beverage control, environment, food preparation, minimum and overtime wages and tips, employment of minors, citizenship requirements, working conditions, and the operation of its restaurants. Because Meritage's operations are concentrated in certain areas of Michigan, a marked decline in Michigan's economy, or in the local economies where our restaurants are located, could adversely affect our operations.

This news release is not intended to constitute an offer to sell or any solicitation of an offer to buy any securities of the Company or otherwise engage in a transaction with the Company.

Contact Information

    Robert E. Schermer, Jr.
    Chief Executive Officer
    Meritage Hospitality Group Inc.
    616/776-2600 x 1012