Private Equity Firm Ares Management Acquires Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk has been acquired by Ares Management for over $700 million. Some estimates suggest the purchase price approached $800 million—an unthinkable number for many burgeoning restaurant chains.

Cooper’s Hawk offers consumers a unique restaurant-winery experience. The Chicago-based restaurant crafts its own premium wine with 50 unique blends. The wine is made in the chain’s suburban Woodridge production facility.

According to data from Restaurant Business, the deal is likely worth about 23 to 26 times that of the restaurant’s 2018 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). Chicago Business estimated lower, calculating the deal to be worth 17.5 times that of the restaurant’s income last year. Cooper’s Hawk reported $31 million in earnings in 2018.

Experts compare the move to Fidelity investing $200 million in Sweetgreen in late 2018. The investment implied a billion dollar valuation for Sweetgreen, surprising some in the industry.

Current owners and operators Tim and Dana McEnery founded the first Cooper’s Hawk restaurant in 2005. The chain is understood to be the first restaurant-winery hybrid of its kind in the state. It remains unclear what the McEnerys’ role will be after the deal is completed.

Cooper’s Hawk currently operates more than 35 restaurants in ten states. The chain just opened a new location in Rockville, Maryland. Cooper’s Hawk also features a wine club that is now comprised of over 400,000 members. Club members pay $19.99 a month for a total of twelve company branded wines each year.

Executive Chef Giuseppe Tentori Explains Why Simple Food Is Great

“I would describe my food as very simple,” says Giuseppe Tentori, Executive Chef and Partner of GT Fish & Oyster and GT Prime. “Simple food is great. You don’t need to add too many ingredients or make your food too weird just to be like a great chef.”

Tentori enjoys various accolades after making a name for himself in Chicago redefining the American seafood restaurant experience with the opening of GT Fish & Oyster in 2011. He earned critical recognition both regionally and nationally, like three stars from the Chicago Tribune and nominations for “Best Chef: Great Lakes” by the James Beard Foundation.

Italy-native Tentori began his culinary career at the young age of 17. He initially got into the industry under the presumption he would be making a lot of money, traveling the world, and eating anything he wanted. “It turned out to be the opposite, but I kinda fell in love with cooking…,” said the graduate of a culinary school in Milan.

Chef Tentori admits that one of the hardest things he’s had to do in his career as a chef is leading a team. He believes it’s important to no micromanage his crew all the time. “You have to mentor them, trust them… just let them do their own thing,” says Tentori. “For me it was like a huge learning experience.”

To learn more about Tentori, what culinary trends he is incorporating into his menu and where he gets his inspiration from, watch the episode above!

Leadership Series: Tremaine Atkinson's Journey from Home Brewer to CH Distillery Founder

“I actually started a brewery when I was about 27 with two buddies and five thousand bucks and it didn’t last very long because we ran out of money,” says Tremaine Atkinson lightheartedly. “But that planted the seed many years ago for what would become CH.”

CH Distillery is Chicago’s first dedicated vodka distillery. It opened August of 2013 after Atkinson left his finance career to pursue his passion for turning raw ingredients into delicious spirits.

“I realized that if I was going to do something in alcohol I would need to raise enough capital to be able to do it successfully. So, I spent years in another career raising that capital…,” explained Atkinson, Founder of CH Distillery.

Not only was he able to raise enough capital but he also learned important skills along the way that prepared him to lead a successful business. In this leadership series, Atkinson talks about how to overcome challenges, secrets to success, and valuable leadership lessons.

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Chef Bill Montagne, 2018 Jean Banchet Award Winner, Brings a Refined & Approachable Cooking Style to Nico Osteria

Chef Bill Montagne, 2018 Jean Banchet Award Winner, Brings a Refined & Approachable Cooking Style to Nico Osteria
  • Award winning chef de cuisine stresses the importance of finding a passionate mentor.

  • Surrounded by great chefs that inspired him, Bill Montagne leads Nico Osteria’s kitchen with passion.

“When I was a kid, I was lucky enough that a couple of my uncles were chefs. We would have family gatherings and my uncles would come over and teach me little tricks...” says Bill Montagne, chef de cuisine of Nico Osteria in Chicago.

Cooking alongside relatives who had worked in restaurants like the Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, Montagne’s passion for cooking began at home.

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Intelligentsia's Geoff Watts Breaks Down How This Brand Is Impacting Coffee-Producing Communities

Intelligentsia's Geoff Watts Breaks Down How This Brand Is Impacting Coffee-Producing Communities

Geoff Watts fell into the coffee industry by accident.

He started out as a barista and became very interested in the chemistry of coffee roasting after falling in love with the idea of coffee having a large spectrum of taste.

What he never imagined was the doors his new-found love for coffee would open. Most importantly, how his current role as the vice president of coffee for Intelligentsia, a Chicago-based artisan coffee company founded in 1995, would inflict positive change in coffee producing communities abroad.

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