BR Guest Hospitality had 16 restaurants under its umbrella when private-equity firm Starwood Capital Group bought half the company in 2007 for $150 million. Today it owns 26 restaurants, including Dos Caminos, Strip House, and Blue Water Grill, but Starwood is looking for a buyer to take the multi-unit operator off its hands.
According to Crain’s, the $150 million deal with founder Stephen Hanson was one of the biggest for a restaurateur. Hanson kept half the company and served as its president, and the intent was to build a restaurant and hotel empire. But that was before the economy went south, damaging the company’s options for growth.
"The joke in the restaurant industry is that the deal spoiled it for the rest of us because no one is going to get that kind of money again since the partnership hasn't been successful," said an anonymous restaurateur.
Hanson still holds 50 percent of the company, and Crain’s sources say he’s likely to want to buy back the rest now that Starwood is looking to sell.
In an interview in October, Hanson said he planned to open six restaurants in the second quarter of next year, and that he expected BR Guest to generate more than $180 million next year.