This story first appeared in Restaurant Hospitality sister publication Nation's Restaurant News.
Celebrity chef Guy Fieri has sold his interest in the Johnny Garlic’s and Tex Wasabi’s concepts to former business partner Steve Gruber, the company announced Wednesday.
The agreement amicably ends the 20-year partnership between Fieri and Gruber, who co-founded Johnny Garlic’s Inc. in Santa Rosa, CA, in 1996. The company operates eight restaurants in California, including seven Johnny Garlic’s and one location of the sushi-barbecue concept Tex Wasabi’s in Santa Rosa.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Gruber has purchased all of Fieri’s stock in the company. Gruber plans to evolve the concept as a craft bar and scratch kitchen with small plates, handcrafted cocktails and craft beer on draft, the company said in a statement.
A new menu is scheduled to debut this summer that will take the concept in a new direction, officials said.
“It’s an exciting day!” said Gruber in a statement. “I started Johnny Garlic’s as a partnership nearly 20 years ago and, after two decades, it’s an opportunity for the brand to evolve and grow.
“We’re taking time to really listen to our guests, rework some of our operations, and plan for some big announcements early this summer to kick off our 20th anniversary,” Gruber added.
Fieri, meanwhile, has a number of other restaurant concepts, including Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar in New York City, which has a variation in the Cancun, Mexico airport and several U.S. cities; along with Guy’s Bar-B-Que Joint.
Last month in Las Vegas, Fieri opened El Burro Borracho–which translates to “The Drunken Donkey”—a Mexican casual dining concept with a décor the Las Vegas Review-Journal described as “in the style of Fieri’s tattoos.”
The chef has also partnered with cruise operator Carnival Cruise to create the Guy’s Burger Joint concept on cruise ships. Last month, Carnival announced a Fieri-designed barbecue concept called Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse that will also be added to the cruise line’s restaurant offerings.
In addition, Fieri continues to appear on various TV shows, including the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
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