Emerging Brands

Darden decides to drop a brand

Remaining restaurants will be converted into Eddie V's restaurants.

As Darden Restaurants adds a concept to its casual-dining fold, it’s also taking one away.

The parent of Olive Garden and The Capital Grille is ceasing operation of Wildfish Seafood Grille, a sister to the casual giant’s Eddie V’s Prime Seafood concept. The Wildfish in Scottsdale, Ariz., has been closed. The two other units, in Newport Beach, Calif., and San Antonio, will be converted in the next few months to Eddie V’s restaurants, according to Eddie V’s spokesperson Hunter Robinson.

Eddie V’s and Wildfish are similar concepts, with a polished-casual ambiance and menus abounding in grilled seafood and steaks. The main difference is the prominence given in the former to a bar.

Combining the two is less a matter of choosing one over the other than “leveraging our competitive advantages, which is hard to do when you have two concepts,” said Robinson. As for why Eddie V’s is the survivor: “We have 15 Eddie V’s and three Wildfish grills,” he said.

The Scottsdale unit was closed rather than converted because an Eddie V’s is located a few miles away, Robinson said. He added that the staff was absorbed into other Darden restaurants in the area.

The company has no plans to use the space for one of its other concepts, which increased in number this week with the opening of The Capital Burger in Washington, D.C. The restaurant features burgers and a wine list more upscale than ones usually featured by burger specialists.

Darden has stressed that it has no plans at this time to open a second Burger Grille, which is positioned as a burger-centric spinoff of The Capital Grille, the company’s high-end steakhouse.

Darden’s other brands include Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, LongHorn Steakhouse, Seasons 52 and Bahama Breeze.

It acquired Eddie V’s and Wildfish in 2011 for $59 million. At the time, there were the three Wildfish Grille and eight Eddie V’s units.

Three more Eddie V’s restaurants are under development, in addition to the two planned Wildfish conversions.

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