The Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, Inc. (SWRG), a collection of American steakhouses headquartered in Boston, announced its latest venture with Irish investment firm, Danu Partners.
Danu has completed an acquisition of SWRG, giving it ownership of seven of the eight U.S. locations, including Boston, Chicago, Miami, and Las Vegas, as well as Smith & Wollensky London, which it opened under license from SWRG in June 2015. Danu now has worldwide licensing rights to the Smith & Wollensky 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."
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 international, contemporary interpretation of the classic American steakhouse. Similar investment, detail and styling is planned for several of the existing U.S. 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.
"This is an incredibly exciting time for our group," sats Michael Feighery, 30-year S&W veteran, CEO, and president of SWRG. "To be partnered with a group of hospitality professionals that 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. We have a tremendous global following and rich heritage that we are all so proud of. It's time to take that passion to the next level with our partners in Ireland."
Danu has also announced 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.