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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Suburban Bennigan's locations to be auctioned

Source: Nation's Restaurant News
By Maureen Wilkey, Chicago

Sixty-five former Bennigan's Grill and Tavern and Steak and Ale House sites nationwide went up for auction this week, including six heavily trafficked suburban locations. Chicago-based NRC Realty Advisors LLC is handling the sealed bids. Included in the portfolio are the Calumet City, Crystal Lake, Deerfield, Niles and Woodridge locations.

"We're going to let the market tells us what the sites are worth," says Evan Gladstone, executive managing director with NRC. "There are a lot of prime locations up for auction."

Sealed bids on the sites are due on October 28 and prospective buyers can see what is available here. NRC was hired by a landlord who did sale-leasebacks to several of the Bennigan's restaurants as well as directly from the trustees who owned mortgaged properties. All of the locations are freestanding, 5,000 to 8,000 square foot buildings and bidders can choose to bid on just one, a block of locations or the entire portfolio, Gladstone says. He expects restaurant franchises will be one type of user to jump on the opportunity.

"There's even a chance that some Bennigan's franchisees could buy, but there are only a handful of locations that are doing well in this economy. Casual dining has really taken a hit," Gladstone says.
But becoming more popular are specialty restaurants and multiple brand locations, such as KFC and Pizza Hut leasing in the same building, Gladstone says. He's also seeing some grocery chains looking to have smaller footprint locations in the sites.

"This is a great opportunity for restaurant operators and retail developers looking for proven suburban locations," commented Dennis Ruben, managing director of NRC Realty Advisors LLC, in a release. "These Class A locations are ideal for new franchises, restaurateurs or retailers to make a big impact on a particular market."

NRC has a lot of experience auctioning large portfolios like the Bennigan's collection. It worked on the Calr Foods disposition in 2003 and its largest portfolio included about 600 buildings, Gladstone says. But rarely are the locations as quality as they are in this case.

"There's going to be a lot of interest in these properties," he says. "From a retail standpoint, 2008 has been a lot worse than two to three years ago, but even with the capital crunch there's still a lot of money looking for the right locations."

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