Sam’s original Lewiston location has been on Main Street since 1940. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — A local culinary institution is under new management after being acquired by an out-of-state venture capital firm.

Sam’s Italian Foods has been bought by Teamshares, a financial technology company based in New York that specializes in transitioning small businesses into employee-owned operations.

The sale, precipitated by the retirement of owner Richard Michaud, was finalized Dec. 1 after 60 days of negotiations conducted by KW Commercial/Magnusson Balfour, a commercial real estate and business brokerage company in Portland.

“The business is staying intact, nothing is changing,” said John Boyan, president of Sam’s Italian Foods and broker relations lead with Teamshares. The sale will not affect the menu or location of franchises, he said.

Sam’s, founded in 1939 in Auburn, serves traditional Italian cuisine, serving favorites such as Italian sandwiches, among others, as well as pizzas, pastas and salads. The restaurant moved in 1940 to its present location on Main Street in Lewiston, eventually expanding into a chain with 13 franchises across the state, including four in Lewiston and two in Auburn.

By becoming an employee-owned business, no single person, family or third party can hold a majority of the company’s shares. Rather, the employees become entitled to them, allowing for an even distribution of the company’s assets in what is known as an employee stock ownership plan.

Often, closely held companies such as Sam’s that become employee-owned yield greater productivity, higher profitability and increased revenue directly affected by employee management, with one of the benefits being exemption from corporate federal income taxes.

An effort to contact Michaud on Monday was unsuccessful. He recently told Mainebiz, “It should create continued new opportunities for our team members. We liked that.”

Michaud and his wife, Wendy, owned the franchise for 33 years.

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