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.

Cocktail Trends: Mindful Beverage Creations

Consumers are becoming more conscious of the products they put into their bodies, which is why companies such as Coca-Cola, La Colombe, and Mocktail Beverages are whipping up unique and mindful beverage creations.

Mocktails Beverages | Non-Alcoholic Cocktails

For anyone who is looking to live healthier lifestyle, cutting out alcohol is a great way to reduce calorie intake and feel more energized.

Recent studies indicate that about 30% of the US population does not drink alcohol. However, options for non-alcoholic beverages in restaurants can be limiting and plain. Mocktails Beverages is ahead of the game when it comes to producing premium and tasty non-alcoholic beverages.

Founder of Mocktails Beverages, Bill Gamelli, has worked with Ezra Star, a renowned mixologist, to craft high-quality mocktails, which are bottled and ready-to-drink or to be served in traditional glassware.

The products are twists on classic cocktail flavors such as Sangria, Margarita, Cosmopolitan, and Moscow Mule and are made with natural ingredients. What differentiates these beverages from non-alcoholic drinks such as soda is the quality in which they are made and the ingredients which are used.

By incorporating these specialty cocktails, restaurants will be able to provide customers with a five-star non-alcoholic beverage and a remarkable experience.

The Coco Cola Company | Artisan-Inspired Juices, Teas, Ades, and Agua Frescas

The Coco-Cola company is one major beverage company striving to put forth mindful products with quality ingredients, such as their Odwalla ades. The artisan crafted lemonades and limeades are unique in the sense that they are paired with herbs and spices to deliver a heightened experience of traditional lemonade.

These quality-crafted ades are made with natural ingredients, including cane sugar, natural flavorings, and no artificial coloring. There are seven flavors, including classic lemonade to more unique flavors such as lavender mint.

The product comes in a pre-made concentrate, which only takes moments to thaw and prepare, making it easier for restaurants to serve a consistent quality beverage to customers every time.

La Colombe | Quality-Canned Lattes

La Colombe is no stranger to quality coffee, and their Draft Latte is a testament of their coffee expertise.

Colombe's Draft Latte is created to be an all-natural ready-to-drink product. The lattes are prepared with intricacy so that customers may experience the full taste and texture of an authentic cold latte, complete with a frothy layer of silky foam.

Additionally, the product is lactose-free making it a friendly drink for a variety of consumers with different dietary needs and preferences.

The Wine & Spirit Trends Appealing to Today's Sophisticated Drinker

Today's consumer isn't only more educated when it comes to food sourcing, they are also more knowledgeable when it comes to wine and spirits. They are looking for unique liquors, spirits, and flavors that can't be found on every bar menu.

This demand for more elevated spirits has fueled the handcrafted cocktail trend. With that in mind, beverage menus are only getting more sophisticated.

On the IOChangeMakers live stream, we sat down with two beverage experts–Cassie Sakai, wine director and lead sommelier for Girl and the Goat and Alan Beasey, beverage director at The Purple Pig to see what types of beverages guests have been ordering the most.

"Right now agave spirits are all the rage and not just tequila. Mezcal had a little surge there, people were really into mezcal. But now we are also starting to see things like raicilla and sotol coming into the picture," says Beasey.

Gin, vodka, whiskey, and tequila will always remain favorites, but today's guests are adventurous and are looking for something new or even something popular from the past.

"Amaro had its moment and now people are like 'what are we going to do next?.' It's about sourcing things that are limited production. I have been seeing really cool old fashions with vintage ingredients," says Sakai.

Watch the clip above to get more insights on the latest spirit trends. Want the full video? It's available exclusively now for On-Demand members. Learn more about Foodable On-Demand now.

Boston Beer Company and Dogfish Head Announces $300 Million Merger

Two publicly traded beer companies Dogfish Head and Boston Beer Company will be merging into one massive beer business.

Last week, the companies announced that they had agreed to a $300 merger deal where the Dogfish Head co-founders Sam and Mariah Calagione will receive about 406,000 shares of Boston Beer stock, making them the largest non-institutional shareholders. Boston Beer founder Jim Koch remains the largest shareholder.

Dogfish Head shareholders made $173 million in the deal and in 2020, Sam Calagione will be joining the Boston Beer's board of directors.

The Samuel Adams’ brewer Boston Beer is the second largest craft beer maker in the U.S. and Dogfish Head is the 13th, according to the Brewers Association.

“This combination is the right fit as both Boston Beer and Dogfish Head have a passion for brewing and innovation, we share the same values and we will learn a lot from each other as we continue to invest in the high-end beer category,” said Koch in a press release.

Koch and Sam Calagione discussed the deal back in February at the Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Fest in Boston while sipping on pints.

“We talked about how challenging the industry is getting, the indie craft definition, brands that consumers think are indie craft, active lifestyle beers, and we discovered how beautifully complementary and not competitive our portfolios were,” said Koch.

Dogfish Head is expected to sell 300,000 barrels of beer this year, with net sales of about $120 million. The company is only expected to grow significantly with more resources under Boston Beer. Dogfish Head current sales team that is only about 25 percent of the size of Boston Beer’s.

This isn't the first time the companies have worked together either. About eight years ago, the companies partnered to brew a collaboration beer for the annual SAVOR craft beer event.

Learn more about this big beer merger at "Brewbound."

Whenever a craft brewer sells or gets acquired, this often inspires a debate amongst craft beer lovin' consumers. Watch the video below to learn more.

How This BarChef Mixologist Makes Cocktail Magic

BarChef, a cocktail bar in Toronto, Canada doesn't just have bartenders, they are more like gastronomic innovators.

The cocktails served at this bar are meant to ignite the imagination and are truly multi-sensorial.

On the past "Across the Bar" episode below we visited BarChef to speak with and to watch Frank Solarik, co-owner and mastermind of the Toronto gem, work his magic as he prepares some of the bar's whimsical cocktails.

The bar has jars lining the bar containing over 5,000 oz bitters used as ingredients in the beverages.

Solarik and his team take a culinary approach to mixology, hence the name “BarChef".

“We put as much passion and care into these dishes as a chef would," says Solarik in the video below.

He was also inspired early on by chefs in the kitchens he worked at.

“One of my jobs was to finish the plates downstairs in the kitchen and working with the chefs, and I was totally amazed by the passion of everyone that was on that team and just the beautiful product that was going out of the kitchen, and the reaction from the guests and things like that,” says Solarik. “For me, it was a turning point in my life. I was just like, ‘I need to do this for a living.’”

Each cocktail is a piece of art.

The Night Blossom cocktail, for example, is made with cacao, chartreuse branch, maple and almond orgeat snow, mint and chartreuse, violet, bourbon, patchouli, Amaro, maraschino, rosemary, and balsam fir and honey. Then it is served with chopsticks and a ramen spoon.

Watch the episode below to see Solarik create this innovative cocktail, along with two others. Also, watch to learn what inspires him to craft these one-of-a-kind recipes.