Golden Gate to Make 2.5x Their Money with Romano’s Macaroni Grill Sale

Romano’s Macaroni Grill is proving to be a sweet deal for Golden Gate Capital.

Ignite Restaurant Group said late Wednesday it agreed to buy Romano’s Macaroni Grill for about $55 bmillion. The seller is Golden Gate Capital, the San Francisco PE firm that also owns California Pizza Kitchen and On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina. The transaction is expected to close in late second quarter.

Brinker International sold Romano’s, a casual Italian restaurant chain that sells dishes like Italian nachos and shrimp portofino, for $88 million in 2008. Included in the deal was the sale of Romano’s real estate, which was acquired by Cardinal Capital Partners, a source familiar with the situation says. (Cardinal, on its web site, says it bought 39 Romano’s locations in 2008 and provided Golden Gate with the majority of capital it needed to buy the restaurant operations.)

Golden Gate, in 2008, got the Romano’s restaurants while Brinker retained a minority stake in the chain, the person says.

With the current sale to Ignite, Golden Gate will likely make 2.5x their investment, the source says. Brinker is also cashing out, the person says.

Golden Gate declined comment.

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