Irish investment firm buys restaurant chain that’s just launched in UK

Smith & Wollensky basement

Irish investment firm, Danu Partners, has acquired the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group (SWRG), a collection of iconic American steakhouses.

The deal gives Danu ownership of seven of the chain’s eight US locations, including Boston, Chicago, Miami and Las Vegas, as well as Smith & Wollensky London, which it opened under licence from SWRG in June 2015.

Danu also now has world-wide licensing rights to the Smith & Wollensky brand as a result of the deal.

The firm’s involvement in the launch of the London branch played a key role in facilitating the takeover.

“Together with the SWRG team we recently launched the first international expansion of Smith & Wollensky in London,” said Leonard Ryan, one of three Principals at Danu. “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.”

Danu’s funding of the London restaurant is evidence of its commitment to the brand’s heritage. Showcasing two full bars, two main dining areas, a full butcher shop and dry-aging room on-site, Danu invested heavily in this contemporary interpretation of the classic American steakhouse.

Similar investment, detail and styling is planned for several of the existing US restaurants, elevating the dining experience to mirror that of the more recent openings and remodels, including the Chicago renovation and launch of the Wollensky’s Grill concept.

Danu said that Tommy Hart, who served as managing partner and general manager of Smith & Wollensky New York for 27 years, will join the SWRG board and will be an “important adviser” to the group as it implements its investment and expansion plan.

The New York Smith & Wollensky, established in 1977 remains in control of its original founder, Alan Stillman and Quality Branded Restaurant Group.

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