BR Guest, the hospitality giant that runs over a dozen Manhattan restaurants including Bill’s Bar & Burger and Dos Caminos, is in the process of being sold to Tilman Fertitta, the billionaire who owns the Landry’s chain and the Golden Nugget casino/hotels in Vegas and Atlantic City. His holdings also include the Bubba Gump Shrimp, Morton’s, and Rainforest Cafe restaurants. The exact terms of the BR Guest purchase have not been disclosed, but Fertitta’s general council, Steve Scheinthal, tells Steve Cuozzo: "We plan on keeping all of the restaurants....We don’t plan on changing anything." In addition to the New York properties, BR Guest also operates restaurants in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and Pittsburg.
BR Guest was built by Steve Hanson, a restaurateur who, much like his colleague Danny Meyer, had a knack for opening genre restaurants with food that was better and more interesting than your average big box dining establishment. During his tenure at the helm of BR Guest, he opened flashy hits like Ruby Foo’s, Wildwood, Primehouse, and Blue Water Grill, many of which were brought to other cities. In 2007, Starwood Capital bought a 50 percent stake in the business from Hanson for $150 million, and in 2013, the group bought out his remaining shares.
As Cuozzo notes, BR Guest has closed some restaurants since Hanson left, while overhauling others, but it still has 15 establishments in its roster, totaling "several thousand seats." The deal is expected to close within the next few weeks.
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