Darden To Acquire Cheddar's
Darden Restaurants is adding another casual-dining chain to its stable. The Orlando, Fla., operator announced late last month it will buy Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen from the private-equity groups L Catterton and Oak Investment Partners for $780 million.
Acquiring Cheddar’s three years after it sold Red Lobster gives Darden its eighth concept; Cheddar’s joins Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze, and Eddie V’s under the Darden umbrella.Cheddar’s CEO Ian Baines will remain president of the chain and report to Darden CEO Eugene Lee. The deal is expected to be complete this spring.
Cheddar’s puts its focus on company-owned units. Earlier this year, it bought its largest franchisee, the 44-unit Greer Cos., leaving Cheddar’s with 25 franchised locations and 140 company-owned units in 28 states. The Irving, Texas-based casual-dining operator’s new prototype unit in Lake Worth, Texas, includes the chain’s first dedicated carry-out entrance. The kitchen is open to the dining room and separated by an expanse of glass; it offers high-top seating as well as moveable, butcher block-finish tables.