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Newport Harbor buys seven Papa Razzi locations

Newport Harbor Corp. has acquired seven of 12 Papa Razzi Trattoria and Bar locations from Charles Sarkis, founder of the Boston-based Back Bay Restaurant Group.

Newport Harbor Corp. — the Newport, R.I.-based parent company of Newport Restaurant Group, which owns seven restaurants, a Relais & Chateaux hotel and a marina, all in Rhode Island — bought the Papa Razzi restaurants in Cranston, R.I., and the Massachusetts cities of Boston, Burlington, Chestnut Hill, Concord, Framingham and Wellesley.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Early last year, Sarkis, who has been battling cancer, sold most of Back Bay Restaurant Group’s assets to the San Francisco-based Tavistock Restaurant Group. The 33 restaurants acquired by Tavistock include the Abe & Louie’s and Joe’s American Bar & Grill chains.

Commenting on the Newport Harbor acquisition, chief executive Paul O’Reilly told Nation’s Restaurant News: “It’s a great fit for us. It gets us into the Boston market and transforms us from a Rhode Island company to a New England company. It has a lot of proven, very profitable locations.”

NHC traditionally had built and developed its own restaurants until it bought Hemenway’s Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar in Providence, R.I. in 2009.

“That was a departure from what we’d done, and we liked it,” O’Reilly said. “It forced us to look at acquisitions as a model for growth.”

He said Papa Razzi, a casual Italian chain, met the group’s culinary standards, and the locations they purchased fit NHC’s “financial and management reach.”

Sarkis retains five Papa Razzi restaurants in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

O’Reilly said NHC officials had no immediate plans to change the Papa Razzi concept, “but like with all our restaurants, we definitely want to take a look at where trends are heading and make sure the restaurants are properly invested in and kept up to date.

“We’ll continue to focus on great value, and we think that by managing it like we manage the rest of our restaurants, we can continue to improve upon it,” he said.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story has been updated to state that NHC bought Hemenway’s Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar in 2009.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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