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Darden to acquire Yard House USA chain


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Orlando-based Darden Restaurants is buying Yard House USA, a chain with South Florida locations known for their craft beer selection and sports bar feel.

The $585 million purchase of the 39-restaurant chain from TSG Consumer Partners LLC should close by the end of the year, according to Ron DeFeo, spokesman for Darden Restaurants.

Darden plans to expand the chain to between 150 and 200 restaurants, DeFeo said. As the world's largest casual-dining company, Darden can help Yard House grow more quickly, Chief Executive Officer Clarence Otis told analysts Thursday.

Yard House, which has an average per-person check of $20.43, has restaurants in 13 states and four in South Florida, which include Boca Raton, Hallandale Beach, Palm Beach Gardens and Coral Gables. About 30 percent of its sales come from alcohol.

Darden is the parent company of brands like Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse.

Yard House will become part of Darden's Specialty Restaurant Group, which includes The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and Eddie V's. It will push that group to nearly $1 billion in annual sales. The chain is expected to generate $368 million in sales in 2013.

The chain opened its fourth South Florida location in Boca Raton last month. Yard House serves American fare, cocktails and has more than 140 types of craft beer. The new Boca Raton location is one of five new stores the chain announced it will open across the country this year.

"Yard House gives Darden greater exposure to both younger and more financially resilient customers," he said. "Yard House has a great management team, it has a great culture; we believe both of those are going to mesh extremely well with Darden."

Sandra Pedicini from the Orlando Sentinel contributed to this report.

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About the authors
Doreen Christensen has never paid full price for anything. If there is a way to save on something, she will find it and share how you can save, too. Doreen is a senior reporter covering consumer news, health, beauty and features for the online and print editions of the Sun Sentinel. A 32-year veteran of the newspaper, she previously was a senior copy editor on the universal copy desk. Doreen spends her time off hunting bargains, clipping coupons, gardening and traveling.

Justine Griffin covers retail and marine business for the Sun Sentinel. She is a Tampa Bay native who graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2010. After spending a year covering crime in St. Augustine, Fla., she moved to Fort Lauderdale and made the switch to business journalism. When she’s not writing, she’s riding horses and spending time with her whippet puppy, Josie.

Marcia Heroux Pounds is the Sun Sentinel's workplace columnist when she's not shopping for shoes. She also writes about small business, which allows her to visit many of South Florida's unique shops and boutiques.

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