Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants announced today an investment by a fund managed by the Private Equity Group of Ares Management Corporation. Nation’s Restaurant News previously reported a report of a sale.
But Cooper's Hawk CEO Tim McEnery described it differently to NRN: “Cooper’s Hawk has always fueled its growth with private investment, including private equity. With this move, we are simply resourcing our business to accelerate growth by partnering with one of the largest and most respected private equity groups in the world."
Terms of the investment were not disclosed. KarpReilly sold its minority position in Cooper’s Hawk as part of the transaction.
“Tim McEnery conceived of a disruptive restaurant concept and lifestyle brand. Tim’s vision has resulted in an incredibly passionate consumer following, driving industry-leading growth and unit economics,” said David Kaplan, co-founder of Ares Management and global co-head of the private equity group.
“Our investment in Cooper’s Hawk follows Ares’ strategy of supporting best-in-class growth businesses. We are thrilled to partner with Tim and the rest of the management team as they continue to lead Cooper’s Hawk through its next phase of growth.”
Countryside, Ill.-based Cooper’s Hawk’s, which was founded in 2005, is one of the fastest-growing casual-dining chains. The brand has differentiated itself from competitors with a wine club of nearly 400,000 members, in addition to a restaurant and tasting room. Cooper’s Hawk currently has 36 locations.
In the latest reported year, the chain reported sales of $282.3 million, up 16.7% from the preceding year, according to NRN Top 200 data. Adjusted average reported unit sales increased in each of the past three years, from $8.4 million in fiscal 2015 to $9.1 million in the latest fiscal year 2018. In the latest year, Cooper’s Hawk had about 35 restaurant locations.
“We are excited to find in Ares a partner that appreciates the uniqueness of Cooper’s Hawk, and its community of employees and wine club members,” said McEnery.
“With the significant resources across the Ares platform, we believe together we can accelerate our growth trajectory, while maintaining our relentless focus on delivering a tremendous experience and value proposition to our wine club members and guests. I continue to own a meaningful portion of Cooper’s Hawk and will lead in our unwavering commitment to provide the very best food, wine, and innovative experiences.”
North Point Advisors acted as exclusive financial advisor to Cooper’s Hawk and Ropes & Gray LLP served as legal counsel. BofA Merrill Lynch acted as a financial advisor to Ares and Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Davis Wright Tremaine LLP served as legal advisors.
Contact Gloria Dawson at [email protected]
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This story has been updated with a comment from Cooper's Hawk CEO Tim McEnery