Castle Harlan, BRS buy Italian restaurant

The two New York-based firms have made a majority investment in Bravo Development, which operates 50 Italian restaurants across the country.

Castle Harlan and Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co. – both based in New York – have acquired an 80 percent stake in Colombus, Ohio-based Bravo Development, which operates 50 Italian restaurants in 19 states. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Bravo co-founders Rick and Chris Doody will retain a 20 percent ownership in the company, which they founded in 1992. Bravo generated more than $215 million (€169 million) in sales last year. The company’s flagship chain is Bravo Cucina Italiana, which has 31 restaurants. It also operates the more upscale Brio Tuscan Grille, which has 13 locations.

Castle Harlan and BRS last teamed up in August 2001 to invest in McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants, which is now a public company. BRS has also made a number of other restaurant investments in the past, including Il Fornaio, Restaurant Associates, Corner Bakery, Au Bon Pain and Real Mex Restaurants, which operates the El Torito, Chevy’s and Acapulco chains.

Castle Harlan has also invested in the sector. The firm’s portfolio company Morton’s Restaurant Group had an $162 million IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in February.

Rock Doody has said he and his brother made the decision to be acquired by a private equity firm in order to receive the financing necessary for an IPO within the next five years.