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Bennigan’s strikes food licensing deal

DALLAS Joining a growing number of restaurant companies looking for a presence in grocery aisles, Bennigan’s Franchising Co. announced Thursday a partnership with licensing agent Global Icons to develop a line of retail products for both the Bennigan’s and Steak & Ale brands.

The move is a first for both brands, which last year saw former parent company Metromedia Restaurant Group file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and close about 150 corporate Bennigan’s locations and all 58 of the sister brand Steak & Ale restaurants.

An investment group last year bought the branding and franchising rights for both chains under Bennigan’s Franchising Co., based in Dallas. The all-franchised Bennigan’s now includes about 100 locations, including roughly 50 international units. There are no Steak & Ale locations open currently.

Company officials said the move into grocery products is a natural extension for the 30-year-old Bennigan’s brand, which was a pioneer in casual dining and currently is going through a revitalization plan with an eye toward new franchise growth.

David Goronkin, who was named chief executive of Bennigan’s Franchising Co. earlier this year, said, “Bennigan’s is a classic American brand and, through our partnership with Global Icons, we’ll be able to bring Bennigan’s favorites to even more people.”

For the defunct Steak & Ale, grocery products would revive interest in the brand’s signature dishes not currently available in restaurants, officials said.

Over the next six months to a year, the Los Angeles-based Global Icons will help develop the chain’s menu items into grocery products available as frozen, refrigerated or shelf-stable foods.

Among the signature dishes under consideration are Bennigan’s Turkey O’ Toole and Monte Cristo sandwiches and the Death by Chocolate dessert; or Steak & Ale’s Kensington Club sandwich, the herb-roasted prime rib or Hawaiian chicken.

Other chains that have created branded retail products in recent months include Burger King, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Tony Roma’s, Steak n Shake and Jamba Juice.

Brands that have long had a presence in grocery stores include California Pizza Kitchen, Wolfgang Puck, T.G.I Friday’s, Claim Jumper and Marie Callender’s.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].

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