Bottoms Up! Centerbridge Buys Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch

Now, for a bit of crowing.

Centerbridge Capital Partners LP, a New York buyout shop, announced yesterday that it had acquired Rock Bottom Restaurants and Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group. The companies will operate as subsidiaries of CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, the holding company formed by Centerbridge. There are no plans to to rebrand or close any units, according to a statement.

Financial terms weren’t announced. Rock Bottom was owned by founder Frank Day and his investment group while Gordon Biersch Brewery was majority owned by Hancock Park Associates. Both are selling. Day will serve as chairman of Craftworks. Allen Corey, an original investor of Gordon Biersch and the company’s CEO, will become president and CEO of Craftworks.

I reported in October that Centerbridge was in talks to acquire Rock Bottom, which operates 102 casual dining restaurants, including 38 Brewery restaurants and 64 Old Chicago restaurants. Centerbridge was in the market at the time for a $150 million loan to back the deal.

Day founded Rock Bottom in 1976. The company went private in 1999 and produced $304 million in revenue in 2009, according to the Rock Bottom web site.

I didn’t know about Centerbridge’s plan to buy Gordon Biersch, which itself is known for its home brewed lagers (the company follows the Reinheitsgebot method).  The first Gordon Biersch opened in Palo Alto, Calif. in 1988 and there are now 29 restaurants across the U.S.

Hancock, a Los Angeles PE firm, acquired Gordon Biersch in 2004 via recap. Gordon Biersch tried to go public in 2006 but pulled the offering without citing reasons in June of that year. Hancock owned a majority, or roughly 77% in Gordon, according to a 2006 regulatory filing.

By combining Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch, Craftworks will have nearly 200 owned and franchised restaurants.

The restaurant space is hot these days. Kelso & Co. agreed in August to buy Logan’s Roadhouse from a trio of PE shops including Bruckmann Rosser Sherrill, Black Canyon Capital and Canyon Capital Advisors. Earlier this year, Lee Equity Partners bought Papa Murphy’s, Mill Road Capital acquired Rubio’s Restaurants and Oak Hill Capital Partners bought Dave & Buster’s. Apollo Management bought CKE Restaurants, which runs the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains, while Golden Gate Capital acquired On The Border.

Duff & Phelps Securities provided financial advice to Rock Bottom and to Craftworks on the Gordon Biersch buy. North Point served as financial advisor to Gordon Biersch.

Officials for Centerbridge, Hancock and Rock Bottom couldn’t be reached for comment.