New ownership for Smith & Wollensky
March 22, 2016
by Bob Sims
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BOSTON – Irish investment firm, Danu Partners, announced ownership of Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group (SWRG). The acquisition gives Danu ownership of seven of the eight US restaurants including Boston, Chicago, Miami and Las Vegas. The deal also includes Smith & Wollensky London, opened by Danu in June 2015 under license from SWRG. Danu now has worldwide licensing rights to the iconic American Steakhouse brand.
"We've been huge admirers of this iconic brand for decades, having hosted a great number of business dinners cutting into S&W steak," says Leonard Ryan, one of three Principals at Danu. "Together with the SWRG team we recently launched the first international expansion of Smith & Wollensky in London. In that partnership, we grew to appreciate the quality and integrity behind the people and the brand. It has incredible equity and enormous potential internationally. And there is still significant untapped potential in the US for S&W and the emerging Wollensky's Grill concept. We see big opportunities for growth all around."
Mark DeBlois, a Managing Partner of Bunker Hill Capital, stated, “It has been our privilege to work with SWRG CEO Mike Feighery and his team in opening two new locations at Atlantic Wharf, Boston and in London with Danu. We could not be more pleased in transitioning the stewardship of this extraordinary brand to our existing sub-licensee partners at Danu, and we wish them every success.”
Danu’s London location proves its commitment to the brand by showcasing two full bars, two main dining areas, a full butcher shop and dry-aging room on site. Danu invested heavily in its classic interpretation of the iconic American steakhouse. Renovations and remodels for existing US locations are planned including the Chicago restaurant and a launch of the Wollensky’s Grill concept.
“This is an incredibly exciting time for our group. To be partnered with a group of hospitality professionals who appreciate the ongoing need to invest in our people and our facilities is critical to our success. Danu has that insight, and they share in our vision for growth both here and abroad,” said Michael Feighery, CEO and President of SWRG and now 30 year veteran of S&W. “As our journey with Bunker Hill Capital comes to an end, we are incredibly grateful for their insight and leadership in helping us fine-tune our business systems and strategy for this next exciting chapter.”
Tommy Hart will join the SWRG board and advise the group’s expansion plans. Hart served as managing partner and general manager of Smith & Wollensky New York for 27 years. The New York Smith & Wollensky, established in 1977 remains in control of its original founder, Alan Stillman and Quality Branded Restaurant Group.