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Bennigan's CEO Buys Chain, Will Re-Launch Steak and Ale


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Gwen and Paul Mangiamele, new 100 percent owners of Bennigan's.

Bennigan’s CEO and his wife, Paul and Gwen Mangiamele, this week bought the casual dining chain, renamed its parent company to Legendary Restaurant Brands, and will bring back the storied Steak and Ale to boot—“of which there are zero today,” Paul said.

Why bring back Steak and Ale, defunct since 2008? “Because there’s an emotional connection that you can’t buy with a billion dollars that still exists,” he said, and next year marks Steak and Ale’s 50th anniversary and Bennigan’s 40th.

 “These are the only two brands that he created,” Paul said, referring to the late Norman Brinker. “He created casual dining as we know it today.”

The pair also seeks to expand its new fast-casual concept, called Bennigan’s On the Fly, targeting non-traditional venues such as cruise ships, hospitals and train stations. They tested that concept in a conversion at the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport about two years ago.

“My wife is a very talented individual,” who has worked in around the foodservice business for years, including at Compass Group and Cintas, Paul said. “And I said baby, instead of us making everybody else rich, let’s focus all of our energy and experience and talents and do it for ourselves.”

As 100 percent owners, “you can be more nimble and faster to market with the ideas, and even opening restaurants,” he said. Fortress Investment Group, a private equity firm, was the seller.

Bennigan’s has more than 85 restaurants today, up from about 60 when Paul Mangiamele joined as CEO in 2011 and began a turnaround. Legendary plans to open new prototypes of a Steak and Ale and Bennigan’s side by side in a northern Dallas suburb, late this year or early next, the city where Brinker had his first company headquarters.

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Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
 
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
 
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
 
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at
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