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Fall and winter
Casual-dining company Darden Restaurants Inc. completed the purchase of Yard House USA Inc. for $585 million. Darden, which owns and operates such major national brands as Red Lobster and Olive Garden, purchased the 40-unit Yard House from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners LLC, which had acquired the casual-dining chain in 2007 when it had only 16 locations. Yard House will join Darden’s Specialty Group, which also includes The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and Eddie V’s.
Superstorm Sandy slammed into the East Coast Oct. 29, causing extensive power outages, widespread flooding, leaving billions of dollars in damages and contributing to at least 85 fatalities in the United States. But while restaurateurs across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states struggled to recover in the wake of the powerfully destructive hurricane, they also mobilized to do what they do best — feed the hungry. Chains and independents alike — even those hobbled by the historic storm — opened their kitchens to affected customers and emergency workers as well as raised funds for relief efforts such as the Red Cross.
Many in the restaurant industry saw a victory by Gov. Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates in the Nov. 6 elections as their last, best hope to overturn President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and head off what they consider to be onerous costs associated with the law’s implementation. However, a decisive victory by Obama coupled with the Democrats retaining their majority in the Senate and picking up additional seats in the House largely ensured the ACA would be implemented as it stood. Federal menu labeling, which passed as a provision of the ACA, also is expected to take effect in 2013.
Coffeehouse giant Starbucks blazed a deeper path into the $40 billion global tea marketplace with the acquisition of Atlanta-based Teavana Holdings Inc. The Seattle-based coffee company agreed to pay about $620 million in cash for the mall-based retail tea store chain. Starbucks already owns Tazo Tea, which generates revenues of some $1.4 billion annually though the sale of tea in its coffeehouse outlets and consumer packaged goods channels. Starbucks also announced plans to open its first Tazo Tea concept this year. The nearly 300-unit Teavana was founded by Andrew Mack in 1997. He will remain Teavana’s chief executive.
In November Brinker International Inc. said longtime executive Doug Brooks would step down as chief executive and president of the company in January 2013. He will be succeeded by Wyman Roberts, the current president of Brinker’s Chili’s Grill & Bar brand. Brooks will continue to hold the post of chairman through 2013, while Roberts will continue to serve as Chili’s president. Brooks has been with Chili’s and Brinker for 35 years, during which time the company grew to 1,585 restaurants generating $2.8 billion in annual revenue.
Ruby Tuesday’s chairman, chief executive and president Sandy Beall (pictured left) retired from the casual-dining company he founded 40 years ago. James. J.J. Buettgen, formerly senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Darden Restaurants Inc., succeeded him as president and chief executive. Beall opened the first Ruby Tuesday in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1972. He expanded the chain to 16 locations by 1982, when it was purchased by cafeteria operator Morrison Restaurants Inc. Beall remained with the company and by the time Morrison sold the chain in 1996, Beall had grown it to more than 300 units. Today, Ruby Tuesday operates 712 company-owned restaurants and franchises 78 more.