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Smith & Wollensky is sold

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The London licensee of the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse chain has purchased the brand from Bunker Hill Capital and several big-name co-investors. Terms were not disclosed.

Danu Partners said it will now own and operate seven of Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group’s eight restaurants, in addition to the London unit it opened in 2015. The eighth U.S. store, the concept’s prototype in New York City, remains the property and charge of founder Alan Stillman and Quality Branded Restaurant Group. Stillman is also the founder of TGI Friday’s.

The restaurants operate under the name Smith & Wollensky and Wollensky’s Grill, a more informal version.

Worldwide development rights to both brands were included in the deal.

Danu said it would appoint Tommy Hart, general manager of the New York Smith & Wollensky, to its board and use him as “an important advisor.”

Based in Dublin, Ireland, Danu is owned by Michael O’Rourke, a veteran of sports TV programming. He and Danu principal Leonard Ryan founded North American Sports Network, which was renamed ESPN America after they sold it.

Through its Mercantile Group, Danu operates a number of pubs and restaurants.

“We’ve been huge admirers of this iconic brand for decades, having hosted a great number of business dinners cutting into S&W steak,” said Ryan. “Together with the SWRG team, we recently launched the first international expansion of Smith & Wollensky, in London. It has incredible equity and enormous potential internationally. And there is still significant untapped potential in the U.S. We see big opportunities for growth all around.”

Smith & Wollensky had been acquired in 2007 by Bunker Hill, former Restaurant Associates executive Nick Valente and chef Joachim Splichal. The concept was founded in 1977.

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