First Watch is an American restaurant chain based in University Park, Florida. The name is a nautical reference to the first work shift aboard a ship as First Watch restaurants are only open from 7:00 AM to 2:30 PM. Their 6,000 employees are spread across more than 200 locations in 26 states. The first was opened in Pacific Grove, California in 1983 by Ken Pendery and John Sullivan. The co-owners founded it after leaving the Le Peep breakfast chain in Colorado. In 1986 they moved their headquarters to Bradenton, Florida. Since January 1, 2016, Kenneth L Pendery Jr. has been the CEO.
The Colorado-based Egg & I Restaurants were bought by First Watch in May 2015. The Egg & I has 114 eateries across twenty states. Not every Egg & I Restaurant location will become a First Watch, but as of 2016, 22 conversions had been completed. In 2014, First Watch bought The Good Egg, which is located in Arizona. 18 of The Good Egg restaurants have been converted into First Watch restaurants. Additionally, First Watch owns Bread & Company, a bakery and cafe located in Nashville, Tennessee.
Advent International, a private equity firm, bought a majority stake in First Watch in 2017. Advent International bought First Watch from Freeman Spogli & Co, which obtained First Watch in 2011. Freeman Spogli & Co. bought out the 85 percent stake previously held by Catterton Partners. Catterton's stake was acquired in 2004 with a $35 million investment that allowed First Watch to expand in the Southeast and Midwest, doubling the number of First Watch restaurants. First Watch has a large presence in Florida, Texas, Ohio, Colorado, and Arizona. First Watch and the Egg & I restaurants serve breakfast, brunch, and lunch and offer a wide variety of items.