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Centerbridge Capital buys Rock Bottom, Gordon Biersch

Restaurant companies will form CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries Inc.

Private-equity firm Centerbridge Capital Partners LP has purchased Rock Bottom Restaurants Inc., the owner of Old Chicago and Rock Bottom, as well as Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group Inc., the owner of the Gordon Biersch chain.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed on Monday. The two restaurant companies will combine to form CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries Inc., but will maintain the separate restaurant chains, headquarters and management teams.

“Gordon Biersch, Old Chicago and Rock Bottom are differentiated casual-dining concepts with strong guest loyalty, high energy atmospheres and a high quality offering of craft beer and made-from-scratch food,” Jason Mozingo, a managing director at Centerbridge, said in a statement. “We are excited by the prospect of partnering with the management teams to strengthen the long-term operating performance of the business and position it for growth.”

CraftWorks will be led by Frank Day, founder of Rock Bottom, and Allen Corey, an original investor in and the chief executive of Gordon Biersch. Day will serve as chairman of CraftWorks and Corey will be president and chief executive.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the combined company,” Corey said in a statement. “There is a long-standing relationship between Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch, which will facilitate a smooth and efficient integration of the two businesses.

“With the help of our new financial sponsor, Centerbridge, we look forward to a successful future as the nation’s leading brewery and craft beer-focused casual-dining restaurant operator.”

Centerbridge said the combined business will operate or franchise nearly 200 locations across the United States. CraftWorks’ primary concepts will include Old Chicago, Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch. It also will operate regional brands including ChopHouse and Big River and maintains intellectual property rights to the Boulder Beer Inc. microbrewery.

The former majority owner of Gordon Biersch, private-equity firm Hancock Park Associates, has exited the business with the sale to Centerbridge. Sellers of Rock Bottom were Frank Day and his investment group.

Duff & Phelps and North Point acted as financial advisers to Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch, respectively. Centerbridge was advised by Weil, Gotshal & Manges. Duff & Phelps also advised CraftWorks on the acquisition of Gordon Biersch. Wells Fargo and GE Capital were joint-lead arrangers for a $150 million credit facility to support the transaction.

Contact Sarah Lockyer at [email protected].

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