Tavistock buys E-Brands for $11.3M

Tavistock buys E-Brands for $11.3M

Deal marks company’s second acquisition this year

Tavistock Restaurants purchased multi-concept operator E-Brands Restaurants for $11.3 million in an auction approved by a bankruptcy court Wednesday, just two months after acquiring Back Bay Restaurant Group.

The deal included E-Brands’ concepts and seven restaurants. Among them were four locations of Timpano Italian Chophouse & Martini Bar, an upscale Italian concept known for its dry-aged steaks, as well as three restaurants in The Venetian Casino Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas: the seafood concept AquaKnox, and the Mexican restaurants Taqueria Canonita and its food-court variant Canonita Express.

With the acquisition of E-Brands, Emeryville, Calif.-based Tavistock Restaurants now owns 65 restaurants under several brands, including the 46-unit Freebirds World Burrito chain and a number of casual and upscale casual dining concepts, including Napa Valley Grille, ZED451, Blackhawk Grille and California Café.

“Timpano, AquaKnox and Taqueria Canonita are tremendous concepts with highly valued guests,” Bryan Lockwood, president of Tavistock Restaurants, said in a statement. “We look forward to building upon E-Brands’ reputation for exceptional service without interruption.”

E-Brands filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in July 2010. At the time, E-Brands blamed economic pressures, saying its restaurants had been “severely affected by the U.S. macro economy, which has resulted in a transient decline in earnings and cash flow.”

Sales for E-Brands fell from $56.7 million in 2008 to about $43.8 million in 2009, a 22.8-percent decline, the company said at the time.

Last year, E-Brands closed its Samba Room location in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as well as Timpano Tavern, the former David Burke restaurant in Las Vegas that was reconcepted after the celebrity chef broke off his partnership last March.

The acquisition this week did not include E-Brands’ Samba Room brand, said Jeff Carl, Tavistock’s chief marketing officer.

E-Brands also operated the restaurant Paradiso 37 under a management contract with the Walt Disney World Resort, and Carl said it was not clear whether that contract would continue with Tavistock.

Tavistock Restaurants, a division of the Orlando-based investment firm Tavistock Group, has been growing rapidly through acquisition in recent years. The acquisition of 33-unit Back Bay Restaurant Group [3] in Boston is expected to be completed within days, pending liquor license approvals, officials said. Tavistock bought the rapidly growing Freebirds World Burrito chain in 2007 and the single-unit Sapporo Restaurant in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Carl said the acquisition includes about 800 E-Brands employees.

There are no immediate plans to make any changes, he added.

“Our plans are to continue operating the restaurants as they are, to learn what our guests are looking for and to continue to deliver to meet their expectations going forward,” he said.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]