Six months ago, retired UPS executive Calvin Darden Sr. came close to buying the largest young men’s lifestyle brand in America, Maxim magazine. But he couldn’t come up with the $28 million purchase price; and then his son, Calvin Jr, was arrested on fraud charges for impersonating his father and fooling lenders into providing $8 million dollars for the potential Maxim bid. Yes, Maxim’s parent company Alpha Media is suing the Dardens for botching the deal but lucky for the magazine, Texan investor Sardar Biglari (owner/CEO of fast food chain Steak ‘N Shake and buffet restaurant Western Sizzlin) was able to write a check, legally, albeit for an estimated $10-15 million.
Often described as a Warren Buffett wannabe, Biglari’s been itching to buy. In December he wanted to make a bid for Cracker Barrel (he’s the company’s biggest shareholder with close to 20 percent) but the company won’t consider selling itself. He’s also made attempts to take over Friendly’s and holds a lot of shares in Sonic and Red Robin, too. Prior to buying Steak ‘N Shake, Biglari didn’t have much experience in the restaurant business, but he shook Steak ‘N Shake into profitability. He halted construction on new stores and implemented a cheaper, smaller new store prototype (and all-you-can-eat type promotions) which didn’t sit well with all franchisees. (They sued.) So it’s curious to read in the Biglari Holdings official statement that “Maxim will continue to be operated by its current management team and will continue to be headquartered in New York City.” So Biglari will continue to pay all of Maxim’s New York City salaries and maintain its fancy Midtown office? Hmmm. What would Warren Buffet do?