06/13/2002 – [Puget Sound Business Journal] Cucina! Cucina! sold to Wolfgang Puck
Publication: Puget Sound Business Journal
SEATTLE (June 13, 2002) – The sprightly Italian restaurant chain Cucina! Cucina! and its fast-casual sister chain Cucina! Presto! have been sold to Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Wolfgang Puck Worldwide Inc. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Wolfgang Puck plans to continue to operate the 15 Cucinas and seven Presto restaurants under their same names as a separate division, and will turn the company's Bellevue headquarters into the service center for that division, a company release said. No restaurant closures or layoffs are planned.
At its height, Cucina! Cucina! Inc. had 19 Cucina restaurants and 16 Prestos. But an expansion into Denver and Phoenix in late 1996 -- for which the company raised $24 million from private investors and venture capital firms -- proved ill-fated, and the new units were eventually closed.
The company has been fairly quiet since then, but did continue opening restaurants occasionally. The most recent press release posted on Cucina's Web site notes the 2000 openings of two Cucina units in California's Buena Park and North Orange County neighborhoods.
In a story Thursday morning, the Los Angeles Times reported that Cucina sales totaled $39 million last year. Calls to Cucina were not returned.
Cucina was spun off from Schwartz Brothers Restaurants in 1994 by founders Bill and John Schwartz. Schwartz Brothers continues to operate its fine-dining restaurants, which include Daniel's Broiler, Chandler's Crabhouse and Spazzo Mediterranean Grill.
The 22-unit Cucina chain adds substantially to Wolfgang Puck's holdings. Aside from the celebrity chef's fine-dining restaurants, the company operates 16 Wolfgang Puck Cafes, including one in downtown Seattle, and 19 Wolfgang Puck Express units. The Puck Cafes operate in five states, including Washington, while Puck Express is currently being aggressively franchised.
Wolfgang Puck's foray into Seattle fine dining, the pan-Asian eatery Obachine, wasn't well received and closed in 1999 after just two years in operation. Wolfgang Puck is a privately held company.
About Wolfgang Puck Worldwide Inc.
About Cucina! Cucina!
Copyright 2002 American City Business Journals Inc. –Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle) - June 13, 2002