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Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 - Nibbles | Food & drink

Enlightened Hospitality Group sold to Abu Dhabi company

Deal includes Malarkey restaurants, Stingaree nightclub

By Michael A. Gardiner
Searsucker Photo by Michael A. Gardiner
Earlier this week, I wrote about how, on Friday, Enlightened Hospitality Group (EHG)—owner of the "Fabric of Social Dining” restaurants—closed its Gabardine and Searsucker Scottsdale restaurants, ostensibly to focus on its “premier brands” (presumably San Diego's Searsucker and Herringbone). I commented on the cognitive dissonance implicit in the announcement and I speculated that it was timed to get the bad news out before this Thursday’s high-stakes launch of Herringbone in Hollywood’s Mondrian Hotel. 

It turns out I was four days ahead of myself and not nearly cynical enough. Friday’s news was timed to precede a major announcement: the sale of a controlling interest in EHG and full ownership of Gaslamp nightclub Stingaree and catering company Campine. In a statement, EHG announced a partnership with Hakkasan Ltd., which Brennan described as "the ideal culmination of more than a decade long career in the hospitality industry":

"My experience with the Hakkasan team has been nothing but first class, and I look forward to helping to build a major international hospitality company."

Hakkasan came to international attention as a Chinese restaurant in London that earned a Michelin star. Since that original London location, Hakkasan expanded to Mumbai, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Beverly Hills and Shanghai. From its original modern Chinese concept, the company has expanded to include additional Chinese and Japanese concepts.  EHG’s Searsucker and Herringbone brands appear to be its first non-Asian restaurant property, though it opened a Las Vegas nightclub in April.

While not explicitly stated in the press release, the inclusion of full ownership in Stingaree and Campine appears to indicate that rather than a sale of EHG, the transaction is a sale of company’s CEO James Brennan’s interest in EHG. The transaction appears to auger well for the financial viability of a company that has experienced a troubled year. Conspicuously absent from the press release, however, is any comment from Brian Malarkey.

Write to michaelg@sdcitybeat.com and check out his blog and reviews. 

 
 
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