Catch owner and Mark Birnbaum is riding high after the sale of half of his hospitality company EMM Group to world’s biggest restaurant owner, billionaire Tilman Feritta of Landry’s — the Texas money man behind Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Rainforest Cafe, and CNBC show “Billion Dollar Buyer” who also recently bought the 17 restaurants of BR Guest. EMM Group — which includes Eugene Remm, Mark Birnbaum, Michael Hirtenstein — sold 50 percent of the company to Tilman Feritta, not Landry’s.
To celebrate his 40th birthday with a spurt of Feritta money, Birnbaum reopened for Saturday night only his first and now-shuttered club Tenjune. The place was stocked with celebs, there for performances by the Chainsmokers and Fetty Wap.
The purchase of EMM Group is part of a company growth spurt led by Fertitta who’s the sole owner of Landry’s, claiming 500 restaurants, including McCormick & Schmick’s, Morton’s, and the Golden Nugget hotel casino in Vegas.
Yet so far Landry’s isn’t necessarily doing right by New Yorkers — or at least those who loved former BR Guest-owned Isabella’s on the Upper West Side. Six months after the purchase of BR Guest and Feritta’s lawyer told the Post’s Steve Cuozzo, “We plan on keeping all of the restaurants. . . . We don’t plan on changing anything,” the group shuttered Isabella’s after 30 years, allegedly because the landlord wouldn’t renew the lease.
However, the closing of Isabella’s — which was originally opened by Steve Hanson — doesn’t appear to have been over rent, Cuozzo later reported in “the truth behind Isabella’s closing.” Talks were underway to renew its lease, which was to expire in the fall, but BR Guest decided to close the restaurant. Landlord partner Michael Grunberg blamed Starwood Capital and Landry’s, Isabella’s last two corporate owners, on the fact that Isabella’s wasn’t making money and that Landry’s “made an economic decision that they would walk away from litigation” that dates back two years. Landry’s general counsel Steven Scheinthal said this is false, claiming “. . . for some inexplicable reason pulled the renewal and asked us to leave.”
Catch, in the meantime, is at the top of its game when it comes to celebrities, having recently been cited as a go-to for La La Anthony, the spot where in 2012 Ligaya Mishan asked, “Can you eat well at a restaurant with 260 seats, bored hostesses, incoherent décor and a party-platter-friendly menu primed for franchising? Confoundingly, yes.”
Catch already boasts locations in LA, Dubai, and Mexico; the EMM sale comes with plans to expand Catch to a third NYC space in Midtown, plus locations in London and Vegas.