Romano’s Macaroni Grill has agreed to acquire four West Coast units from a franchisee in bankruptcy, expanding its casual-dining holdings in its majority ownership’s home region.
Dallas-based Macaroni Grill, whose majority owner is private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital of San Francisco, is acquiring three units in California’s Bay Area and one in Seattle, Wash., in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings of franchisee Waterloo Restaurant Ventures Inc.
Waterloo Restaurant Ventures of Vancouver, Wash., which in 2002 became Macaroni Grill’s first franchise group, had about a dozen restaurants when it filed March 8 for bankruptcy protection.
“With the acquisition of these four restaurants, we gain a strong company-owned footprint in the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest,” said Norman Abdallah, Macaroni Grill’s chief executive president, in a statement.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to establish our brand presence in these dynamic markets,” Abdallah added.
With the completion of this acquisition, which originated in public auction and is expected to close by the end of this month, Macaroni Grill's parent company will own and operate 186 units. Five domestic units remain franchised. The company also has international units in 10 countries, for a total of more than 200 units systemwide.
Facing competition from larger casual-dining players like Darden’s Olive Garden, Macaroni Grill has worked to distinguish its promotions. The brand’s most recent value offering over the summer featured a $14 combination dinner with a special-menu entrée and choice of tapas appetizer or dessert. Customer could order all three courses for $3 more.
Dallas-based Brinker International Inc., which also owns the Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy casual-dining chains, sold majority ownership to Golden Gate in 2008  for $88 million and retained a 19.9-percent ownership in the parent company, Mac Acquisition LLC. That stake is now reported at about 15.6 percent.
Golden Gate Capital owns California Pizza Kitchen, CPK ASAP and the On The Border brands.