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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Type Private
Founded 1976
Headquarters Richardson, Texas, U.S.
Industry Dining
Revenue $734 Million
Net income $79 Million

Bennigan's Grill & Tavern, commonly known as Bennigan's, is a tavern-themed casual dining restaurant chain with locations throughout the United States, and in 14 countries and 15 territories outside the continental U.S. The operating company, Bennigan's Franchising Company, LLC, is headquartered in Richardson, Texas.[1]

In late July 2008, all company-owned restaurants, about 150 locations, were closed when the owner, S&A Restaurant Group, filed for Chapter 7, Title 11, United States Code (liquidation) bankruptcy. The franchised restaurants in the chain remained in business. After the closure of the S&A Group, all remaining assets of the company were purchased by a private equity group with the intent of reopening the chain as a fully franchised operation.



Bennigan's features a menu with typical American fare and Irish twists, including appetizers, sandwiches, and steaks. Its most popular menu items over many years include the Monte Cristo sandwich, Broccoli Cheese Soup, Broccoli Bites, and Death by Chocolate. Restaurants also feature a full bar, with many varieties of beer available. While the premise of the restaurant was an Irish Pub, the only Irish offerings were chicken, steak, and hamburgers served with a Guinness glaze and sauce and green menu lettering.


Bennigan's was established in 1976 in Atlanta, Georgia, as part of the Pillsbury Corporation. The concept was the brain-child of company vice president and Steak and Ale founder Norman E. Brinker. By the early 1980s Bennigan's had become one of the best known of the new style mid-range casual dining franchised "fern bar" eating and drinking establishments in the United States. In 1983, Brinker led an exodus of senior management from the S&A and Bennigan's division, purchasing a small regional restaurant concept that focused on gourmet hamburgers, Chili's.[2] Bennigan's continued to grow rapidly across the United States, as well as opening locations in fourteen countries.

When Pillsbury was acquired by Grand Metropolitan in 1989 (Grand Met later merged with Guinness in 1997 to become Diageo), the company was spun off. As a major liquor distributor selling such brands as Bombay gin, J&B and other spirits, Grand Metropolitan was bound by "Tied house" laws that prohibited liquor distributors from owning liquor retailers. S&A management, underwritten by Metromedia, led the leveraged buyout of S&A in 1991.[3]

A Bennigan's sign

The deterioration of food quality in addition to the failure of Bennigan's executives to update and evolve the restaurant concept over twenty years led to significant sales and customer visit declines. Bennigan's consistently lagged behind its contemporaries, Chili's and T.G.I. Friday's. John Owens, a Morningstar analyst, described Bennigan's as one of the "weakest of the major players." Rapid expansion among many chains led to a lack of distinction among customers and a drive to cut prices.[4] Bob Goldin, an executive vice president of the restaurant industry consulting group Technomic, said that many chains like Bennigan's featured "the same kind of menu, décor, appeal." This translated into a lack of brand loyalty.[5]

In 2006 Bennigans closed most of its New England locations.[6]


Corporate closure

On July 29, 2008, the web site of WBBM news radio (Chicago) reported that the Bennigan's chain had closed due to bankruptcy. The website cites calls to several area Bennigan's locations in which managers and employees told reporters that the closings were company-wide, having been informed by their own supervisors early that morning. There were reports of shutdowns in Ohio,[7] Illinois,[8] New Jersey,[9] Texas,[10] Florida,[11] Colorado,[12] Kansas,[13] Virginia[14] and New Mexico.[15] Phone calls went out for many employees that morning notifying them of their job loss, but others reported showing up to work to find a "Closed" sign hanging on the door.[16] Later that day, sister station WBBM-TV reported on its web site that only company-owned stores were closing, and that franchised locations remain open.[17] Franchisees in states including Michigan announced their plans to keep the stores open in their territories.[18]

Other reports indicated that the shutdown was only within the United States, allowing international locations to remain open. In South Korea, for instance, over 30 locations were still operating as usual.[19] The Wall Street Journal reported at the time that both Bennigan's and Steak and Ale had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and shut down. According to the news report, they were not expected to reopen.[20] Many formerly corporate-owned stores have been placed up for auction.[21]

New ownership

In October 2008, it Atalaya Capital Management announced that it would buy the assets of both the Bennigan's and Steak and Ale brands. The assets include the Bennigan's Franchising Co., which owned the rights to franchise the Bennigan's brand and was instrumental in keeping franchise-owned restaurants operating during the bankruptcy period. Joel Holsinger, managing director of the firm, said the company planned to reposition the brand by re-establishing its place in the high-margin bar segment and by focusing on sandwiches and appetizers. Holsinger also said the company planned to reopen 50 or 60 formerly company-owned Bennigan's locations by finding new or existing franchisees to operate the restaurants.[22]


  1. ^ "Contact." Bennigan's. Retrieved on February 21, 2010.
  2. ^ "Bennigan's launches extensive new menu". CBS Interactive. 6 May 1985. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  3. ^ "Conglomerate menace stalks chains". Cengage Learning. 14 August 1989. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  4. ^ "". 
  5. ^ "Restaurant Chains Close as Diners Reduce Spending". The New York Times. 30 July 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  6. ^ ",0,2131633.story".,0,2131633.story. 
  7. ^ "Bennigan's suddenly closes 10 Ohio eateries". 30 July 2008. Retrieved 2009-12-07. 
  8. ^ "Reports: Bennigan's shuts down Chicago locations". Digital Chicago. 30 July 2008.,bennigans072908.article. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  9. ^ "Bennigan's staffers say some restaurants closed". Thomson Reuters. Reuters. 29 Jul 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  10. ^ "Bennigan's: Erin Go Broke". Gothamist. July 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  11. ^ "Lakeland Bennigan's Closes: Shut-Down May be Nationwide". 
  12. ^ "What now for Bennigan's workers?". KUSA-TV. Multimedia Holdings. July 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  13. ^ "Bennigan's closes today". The Topeka Capital-Journal. 29 July 2008. Retrieved 2002-02-10. 
  14. ^ ",0,7480212.story".,0,7480212.story. 
  15. ^ "". Albuquerque Journal. 
  16. ^ "". 
  17. ^ "Bennigan's Restaurants Shut Down Nationwide; Independent Franchise Locations Remain Open". WBBM/ 2008-07-29. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  18. ^ "Bennigan's files Chap. 7; state franchisees remain open". Tri-Cities Business Review. Michigan Online. 29 July 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  19. ^ "Struggling US Chains Find Consolation in Asia". 2008-08-01. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  20. ^ "Bennigan's, Steak and Ale To Liquidate as Glutted Restaurant Industry Shakes Out". Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  21. ^ "Suburban Bennigan's locations to be auctioned". 11 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  22. ^ "Investment firm buys Bennigan's name and franchise rights". 2008-10-23. 

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