Private equity firm buyer of Firebirds plans to step up expansion of steakhouse chain


J.H. Whitney Capital Partners plans to ramp up expansion at Firebirds International, LLC after acquiring the steakhouse from Angelo, Gordon. Financial terms were not disclosed. Angelo Gordon is also a private equity company.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Firebirds Wood Fired Grill has 48 locations around the nation. One of Firebirds’ early locations was in Christiana-Newark. The company later opened a restaurant in the Chadds Ford PA area, a short distance from the Delaware line.

The Christiana-Newark location ranks No. 1 on Yelp and TripAdvisor with the Chadds Ford outpost in the top five with both rating sites.

A Whitney release stated that Firebirds has a history of outperforming industry benchmarks with proven success across different markets. The company plans to accelerate its growth across the continental United States with the support of J.H. Whitney.

Firebirds’ pricing places it between the Longhorn and Texas Road House chains,and high-end steakhouses like Sullivan’s and Del Frisco’s.

Sullivan’s was recently sold by Del Frisco’s to the owner of the Romano’s Macaroni Grill. Sullivan’s has a location off Concord Pike. Romano’s earlier closed a restaurant to the south off Sullivan’s on Concord Pike.

Under Angelo Gordon, the chain has been careful with its expansion in a fiercely competitive industry that has led to many bankruptcies at smaller groups.

Firebirds’ CEO Mark Easonhas nearly 40 years of experience in the restaurant industry and will continue in his current role.

“Firebirds’ guest-first culture and various industry recognitions are reflective of our continuous investment in our team members and customers. J.H. Whitney’s willingness to invest in the long- term success of our brand and their alignment with our core values make them the ideal partner to help us execute our growth strategy,” Eason stated. “We are very pleased to have J.H. Whitney’s experience, resources and team of professionals supporting Firebirds.”

“Firebirds is a unique brand that has a distinguished and proven track record of profitability and growth and is run by a management team that is one of the most dynamic in the industry,” said Paul R. Vigano, J.H. Whitney senior managing director, about the acquisition. “We are excited to partner with Mark and the Company’s talented management team to help accelerate the company’s growth.”

Firebirds was founded by Dennis Thompson, who at one time headed Lone Star Steakhouse. Lone Star had a successful location in New Castle for many years. Lone Star exited Delaware after having as many as three locations.

Founded in 2000, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill features a wood-burning grill and a Colorado-inspired design. For more information about Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, click here.

J.H. Whitney, established in 1946 by industrialist and philanthropist, John Hay “Jock” Whitney, was one of the first U.S. private equity firms and is often credited with pioneering the development of the private equity industry.

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