Chain Beverage Buzz: April 5, 2010

Brian Zachau from Minnesota was crowned "The Greatest T.G.I. Friday's Bartender in the World" at T.G.I. Friday’s World Bartender Competition in Carrollton, Texas. Nearly 7,000 Friday’s bartenders from 60 countries entered. Ten finalists showed off their flair techniques of tossing, balancing, mixing cocktails and flipping bottles to choreographed music. Ram Ong from the Philippines placed second and Atillia Farmasi from Hungary was third.

TGI Friday's Brian Zachau

Golden Gate Capital purchased On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina from Brinker International Inc. for an undisclosed amount. The San Francisco-based company purchased Romano’s Macaroni Grill from Brinker in 2008 and also owns Express, Eddie Bauer and J.Jill. In addition to holding a minority investment in Macaroni Grill, Brinker owns the 1,499-unit Chili’s and the 45-unit Maggiano’s Little Italy concepts.

Darden Restaurants promoted John Caron from executive vice president of marketing for Olive Garden to the newly created position of chief marketing officer for Darden. Caron will drive development and implement new brand strategy across Darden businesses including Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and the company’s three Specialty Restaurant Brands.

In its annual reporting on the top U.S. restaurant chains, Technomic Inc. found systemwide sales for the Top 500 chain restaurants declined to an estimated $230 billion in 2009, down nearly $2 billion over 2008 numbers. Full-service chains accounted for roughly 40 percent of all U.S. restaurant sales in the Technomic Top 500; this segment decreased 2.9 percent, with Asian being the only full-service subsegment with positive sales (2.9 percent).

Carl Brach joins OneBar Inc., a national account representation and marketing firm. Brach most recently served as senior national account manager with Constellation Spirits, from 1999-2009.

Newly launched PL360 Beverage Partners, a wine and spirits company focusing on building premium labels, private labels and agency brands, introduced its new leadership team: Dave Ficeli, CEO and partner, Robert V. Falvo, COO and partner, and Todd Stockbauer, chief financial officer.

Back Bay Restaurant Group moved its Boston anchor location of Joe’s American Bar & Grill from the corner of Dartmouth Street to the corner of Newbury and Exeter. With enhanced amenities and new menu items, the revamped Joe’s American Bar & Grill blends traditional elements with modern touches.

Joes American Bar & Grill

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