May 19, 2022

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The Car & Automotive Devotees

Brother’s Food Mart acquired by Georgia gas-station firm, set to triple in size across Southeast | Business News

3 min read

Turjo Wadud, the co-CEO of Georgia-based gas-station owner Mountain Express Oil Co., is a self-proclaimed health nut.

So when Brother’s Food Mart co-owner Imad Faiez “Eddie” Hamdan picked up Wadud from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport for a 9 a.m. tasting of his New Orleans-based convenience store chain’s full menu—including its famous fried chicken—he was skeptical.

“Fried food is not my thing,” Wadud said. “I can’t believe I’m eating fried chicken.”

Hamdan chimed in, “but this guy was eating the hell out of it.”

Wadud and Hamdan were in the early stages of talks that resulted this week in the purchase of Brother’s Food Mart by Mountain Express. The company, which owns gas stations and convenience stores across the U.S., has purchased the majority of locations of Brother’s Food Mart in Louisiana, their fueling rights, and exclusive rights to the name “Brother’s Chicken.”

The deal will add Brother’s to a growing Mountain Express empire that includes more than 200 gas stations and nearly 600 employees.

A sale price was not disclosed, but in an interview Thursday Wadud and Hamdan said the Brother’s Food Mart brand will remain on New Orleans-area convenience stores. There is expansion planned as well.

Hamdan started Brother’s Food Mart more than 30 years ago, shortly after arriving from Palestine in 1984. He began with just one location on the West Bank Expressway.

The company is currently the largest convenience store in New Orleans with 50 locations, but Hamdan and his co-owner, Ziad Odeh “Z” Mousa, ran into legal trouble two years ago.

Both were indicted in 2019 by a federal grand jury over allegations that they employed immigrants who were not authorized to work in the U.S., paid workers cash under the table and evaded taxes.

Mousa and Hamdan both pleaded not guilty and that case is still pending.

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Mountain Express expects to add 100 additional Brother’s Food Mart locations in Louisiana. While those locations are pre-existing gas stations that the companies plan to move into, Wadud said there may be as many as 40 additional gas stations built from the ground-up that will carry the Brother’s brand.

Some convenience stores already owned by Mountain Express—those out of state—will not be renamed Brother’s Food Mart, but will carry Brother’s Chicken.

In March, Wadud and his co-CEO Lamar Frady acquired Mountain Express, which is based out of Alpharetta, Georgia, and operates in 19 states.

The acquisition of Brother’s is the latest in a string of recent deals for Mountain Oil, which has included West Hill Ranch, a Florida-based convenience store brand with six locations, and all 33 locations of Quick Chek convenience stores in North Carolina.

Procore Technologies has reached a $500 million deal to acquire Levelset, a New Orleans-based construction software company.

“These guys were very aggressive when they came, but I told them this is a local company,” Hamdan said. “What are they gonna do for New Orleans?”

The deal may bring as many as 100 employees from Georgia to New Orleans as early as the next couple of weeks, the executives said, as Mountain Express is planning to move their retail headquarters to a location on Manhattan Boulevard on the West Bank.

The breading and spice manufacturing operations for the increased fried chicken production will operate solely out of New Orleans, with Hamdan anticipating a total of 20-25 employees, many of them new hires.

From New Orleans, they’ll distribute the seasonings across the newly anticipated locations in North Carolina, Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, as well as more locations across Louisiana.

“These guys are coming in here thinking this is home,” Hamdan said.

CORRECTION: Earlier versions of this story said Hamdan came to the U.S. from Jerusalem.

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