• Marcato Capital has held talks with chicken-wing chain
  • Firm seeking strategic, operational or management changes

Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. jumped the most in almost six months after activist investor Marcato Capital Management LP acquired a stake in the restaurant chain and vowed to push for changes.

The hedge fund, run by Mick McGuire, reported a 5.1 percent holding in Buffalo Wild Wings, according to a regulatory filing on Monday. Marcato said it has held talks with the chain’s management and board and expects discussions to continue.

The investor is targeting a once-hot restaurant chain that has cooled in the past year. After posting stock gains for seven straight years, Buffalo Wild Wings suffered a 12 percent decline this year through the end of last week. Marcato plans to boost shareholder value by seeking strategic alternatives or shaking up operations and management. That could include changing the business’s capital structure and its mix of franchised versus company-owned restaurants, the firm said.

The stock rose as much as 6.2 percent to $149.50 in New York on Monday after Marcato made the disclosure. That was the biggest intraday gain since Feb. 4.

Buffalo Wild Wings has struggled with higher chicken-wing costs and has raised its menu prices, driving away some customers in the process. Chains such as TGI Friday’s, Chili’s and Applebee’s also have focused on improving their bars with cocktails and craft beers, bringing more competion.

Buffalo Wild Wings reported a same-store sales decline of 1.7 percent at company-owned locations in the first quarter. It’s scheduled to report second-quarter results on Tuesday.

McGuire founded San Francisco-based Marcato in 2010 with startup capital from Blackstone Group LP after he worked at Bill Ackman’s firm, Pershing Square Capital Management. Marcato primarily invests in small- and mid-market public companies.

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