Bob Evans Farms is getting out of the restaurant business to focus on food processing and has announced the purchase of a Aroostook County potato company. 

On Tuesday, Bob Evans Farms Inc. sold off its chain of restaurants to an affiliate of Golden Gate Capital for $565 million and signed an agreement to acquire Pineland Farms Potato Co. in Mars Hill for $115 million with a deal expected to close in May.

Rodney McCrum, the president and chief operating officer of Pineland Farms Potato Co., says the entire staff are expected to to be kept on.

PFPC produces refrigerated potato products and has done business with Bob Evans since 2002.

Pineland Farms

The deal will not affect operations at Pineland Farms’ natural meats company, its cheese operations or the business real estate and farm campuses in New Gloucester and Gray.

Saed Mohseni, CEO of Bob Evans Farms, says the acquisition of the northern Maine company gives Bob Evans the capability to produce and sell diced and shredded potato products in both the retail and food service markets.  The company will also be able to take advantage of Pineland's 900 acre potato farm and northern Maine's 55,000 acres of annual potato production.

Mohseni says the purchase price may be increased by up to $25 million if certain financial metrics are achieved during a 24-month period after closing.

He says the sale of Bob Evans Restaurants to Golden Gate Capital enables exclusive concentration on BEF Foods.  "Bob Evans Restaurants has made tremendous progress over the last few years as our teams have strived to upgrade every aspect of the guest experience. We believe our talented restaurant teams, combined with Golden Gate Capital’s industry expertise and significant resources, positions Bob Evans Restaurants well for realizing its full potential."

Bob Evans Foods

The company issued a social media statement today clarifying the future of the family dining chain:

"To all our fans and guests: sorry for the confusion after yesterday's announcement, but we are not going anywhere. We are committed to bringing you the same great food and warm hospitality at our restaurants today, tomorrow and for many years to come.

See the attached article for more details about yesterday's announcement and please do not hesitate to reach out to us with your questions. We thank you for your continued support as we move forward!"

Bob Evans Restaurants (Facebook)

The 125,000 square foot potato facility in Mars Hill employs nearly 200 people and buys about 100 million pounds of potatoes from 25 local growers each year. Haggett says the factory may be able ramp up its full capacity to handle 180 million pounds annually.

Pineland was purchased by the Libra Foundation of Portland in 2010.  Libra Foundation president and chief operating officer Jere Michelson says the sale to Bob Evans has been in development for several years.