TriArtisan Capital Partners is in “advanced talks” to buy casual-dining chain TGI Fridays from parent Carlson, Reuters news service has reported.

TriArtisan, the private-equity division of New York-based investment bank Morgan Joseph, has reportedly partnered with Sentinel Capital Partners to buy the nearly 50-year-old Carrollton, Texas-based chain, sources told Reuters.

Minneapolis-based Carlson said in November that it was reviewing strategic alternatives, including a sale of TGI Fridays.


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A representative at TriArtisan said the company does not comment on the firm’s discussions, and a representative for TGI Fridays said the company would have no comment on the report.

Research in the latest Nation’s Restaurant News Top 100 report showed TGI Fridays estimated sales per unit at $3.31 million in fiscal 2012, a 2.3-percent increase over $3.23 million in its preceding fiscal year.

Friday’s is the seventh largest casual-dining restaurant chain in the NRN Top 100, with estimated U.S. systemwide sales of $1.8 billion in 2012.

When Carlson said in November that it was seeking strategic alternatives for the restaurant brand, it reported its units Shanghai and in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, had sales that exceeded market peers.

The first TGI Fridays opened in 1965 in New York, and the company now has about 930 restaurants worldwide. The chain was a pioneer in expanding abroad and opened its first international unit in Birmingham, England, in 1986. There are now about 400 units outside of the U.S.

TriArtisan, founded in 2002, merged with Morgan Joseph in 2011. Reuters reported that the company was a finalist in bidding for the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. burger chains, which sold late last year to Roark Capital Group of Atlanta.

Sentinel, which is reportedly assisting in the TGI Fridays deal, completed its acquisition of the Checker’s and Rally’s burger chains in January.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless