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McClatchy-Tribune  05/25/2014 5:04 PM ET
Red Lobster's real estate buyer to sell plazas [Orlando Sentinel :: ]

May 25--American Realty Capital Properties Inc. will pay for its recently announced purchase of Red Lobster real estate by selling its shopping center portfolio for $2 billion.

It will sell the shopping centers to Blackstone Real Estate Partners VII, a division of Blackstone Group, which also owns a stake in SeaWorld.

San Francisco based private equity firm Golden Gate Capital is buying the entire Red Lobster business from Darden Restaurants for $2.1 billion. Golden Gate is financing most of the deal by selling more than 500 Red Lobster properties to American Realty Capital for $1.5 billion, then leasing them back.

Sale of the shopping centers "will allow us to acquire what in our view are the 500 best Red Lobster stores profitably," American Realty Capital said in a news release.

At 473 sites, Red Lobster owns the land and buildings, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

At 185 others, it leases land but owns buildings.

Burger and Beer opens in Orlando

Burger and Beer Joint has opened at the old Culpepper's at 11662 University Blvd. in east Orlando. It has three other locations, all in South Florida.

Casual-dining traffic slows

There was more bad news for casual-dining restaurants last week, courtesy of NPD Group: Visits were at a six-year low in the year ending in February.

Since 2009, casual-dining traffic has declined at a rate of 2 percent each year for a loss of 7 million visits.

Major casual-dining chains have performed better because they can advertise and offer deals more than the smaller chains and independents. Visits to major casual-dining chains have stayed flat for five years, but at small chains and independents they have declined 3 percent.

People are visiting fast-casual restaurants such as Chipotle more often and saving visits to casual- dining eateries for special occasions, NPD said.

"Casual dining operators must reinvent offerings that have lost their luster and introduce new promotions and menu items to attract customers and encourage repeat visits," NPD analyst Bonnie Riggs said in a news release.

Soco opening in old Hue space

Soco, specializing in Southern contemporary cuisine, will open this summer in the space formerly occupied by Hue. Thornton Park Restaurant Group, which also operates Cityfish, is developing the concept.

Greg Richie, the executive chef, has worked at Cityfish, Roy's restaurant on Sand Lake Road and Emeril's Tchoup Chop at the Royal Pacific Resort at Universal.

Crave closes near Mall at Millenia

Crave has closed its Orlando restaurant near Mall at Millenia.

The small chain that served American fare and sushi first opened in 2007 in a Minneapolis suburb. The Orlando location was Crave's first outside its home base when it opened in 2010. or 407-420-5240


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