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Smith & Wollensky

Sales: $102.7 million (+9.6%)
Headquarters: Boston
Market segment: Casual Dining
No. of units: 10 (flat)
ESPU: $10.3 million (+4.1%)
Year founded: 1977

The first Smith & Wollensky steakhouse was opened in New York more than three decades ago by restaurateurs Alan Stillman and Ben Benson with a group of investors, who still own the original Manhattan location. The brand was acquired by Bunker Hill Capital L.P. in 2007 and is now operated by Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group Inc. Smith & Wollensky opened its second Boston location a little over a year ago and is exploring other potential locations in the U.S. and abroad.

Meanwhile, the company continues to evolve and refine its contemporary upscale steakhouse experience. Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group recently named 30-year veteran Joe O’Brien to the post of national director of operations with responsibility for operations and overall management of the company’s nine locations. Smith & Wollensky also adjusted its fare for the season when Matt King, national director of culinary development, rolled out its summer menu. The chain also is hosting the 53rd National Wine Week, an annual event showcasing the restaurants’ extensive wine lists.
 

Ted’s Montana Grill

Sales: $102 million (+4.1%)
Headquarters: Atlanta
Market segment: Casual Dining
No. of units: 44 (flat)
ESPU: $2.3 million (+6.5%)
Year founded: 2002

Backed by businessman and media giant Ted Turner, Ted’s Montana Grill has grown to 44 locations. The chain sets itself apart by offering something the traditional casual burger chains don’t always have: bison burgers.

Operated by chief executive George McKerrow Jr., Ted’s has evolved its menu over time and grown its footprint throughout the U.S. while remaining true to its core values and roots in Americana.

Part of the goal in serving bison meat was to help save the dwindling American buffalo herds. The fact that Ted’s will buy and sell the meat means that ranchers have incentive to raise larger herds, the company said.

In 2010 Ted’s closed nine units, but since then, the company has doubled down on what it said makes it special — unique food served in a unique environment — and has managed to post consistent sales growth.

The company is noteworthy for its environmental efforts, using everything from recyclable straws to energy-efficient lighting. On its website the company notes that it aspires to be 99-percent plastic free.