The owners of the ultra-high-end global Hakkasan restaurant chain announced Monday the acquisition of Enlightened Hospitality Group, or EHGRP, operator of celebrity chef Brian Malarkey’s restaurants primarily located in Southern California.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Hakkasan Ltd. has taken a controlling stake in EHGRP and its five restaurants, along with the San Diego nightclub Stingaree, founded by EHGRP founder James Brennan. Also included was the group’s catering and event-production company: Campine, A Culinary + Cocktail Conspiracy.

EHGRP will continue to operate the businesses in partnership with the new owners.

Based in San Diego, EHGRP is known primarily for the Searsucker and Herringbone restaurant brands, casual full-service concepts created by Malarkey and Brennan with the goal of multiunit growth. Known for whimsical American cuisine and design with a lively bar scene integrated within the restaurant dining rooms, the brands are named after types of cloth under the common theme of “the fabric of social dining.”

Searsucker, which uses an alternative spelling to emphasize its seafood focus, first opened in San Diego in 2010 and hit $8 million in sales its first year. Subsequent locations are in Del Mar, Calif., as well as Austin, Texas.

The company operates a Herringbone in La Jolla, Calif., with another scheduled to open this week at the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles.

Last week, however, two of EHGRP’s restaurants closed: a Searsucker in Scottsdale, Ariz., and a third concept called Gabardine in the San Diego area.

The company also previously attempted two other concepts: Gingham, which first opened in 2011, was closed earlier this year, and another concept called Burlap, which was rebranded as the Searsucker in Del Mar.

Hakkasan officials said the acquisition reflects a commitment to further expansion in the U.S., as the London-based company builds a multifaceted global lifestyle brand.

“We are delighted to welcome Enlightened Hospitality Group into the Hakkasan Ltd. family as we move forward with our plans for expansion in the U.S.,” said Neil Moffitt, Hakkasan’s chief executive, in a statement. “This is an exciting time for everyone involved and our first priority will be to expand upon the success of EHGRP’s current venues by introducing the existing brands into additional markets, both domestically and internationally.”

Founded in 2001, Hakkasan launched a global restaurant chain in London with its namesake brand, a modern Cantonese concept with luxury pricing that tends to attract the well-heeled and celebrities.

Hakkasan operates 11 restaurants with locations in New York, London, Miami, Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, Dubai, Doha, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Beverly Hills, Calif. A 12th restaurant is scheduled to open in Shanghai early this year.

The Hakkasan Las Vegas location, which opened at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in April 2013, included the first nightclub addition. Hakkasan Ltd. also plans to open its first luxury resort on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah, which is scheduled to begin construction this year.

Other brands listed on Hakkasan’s website include the dim sum teahouse concept Yauatcha in London and India, and the Japanese restaurant Sake no Hana in London and Dubai.

Malarkey, a former chef and operating partner of The Oceanaire in San Diego, is known as a past contestant on the competitive cooking show “Top Chef,” as well as a former competitor and judge on “The Taste.”

“The partnership between Enlightened Hospitality Group and Hakkasan Ltd. is the ideal culmination of more than a decade long career in the hospitality industry for me, and most certainly marks a personal high,” EHGRP founder Brennan said in a statement. My experience with the Hakkasan team has been nothing but first class, and I look forward to helping to build a major international hospitality company.”

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout