After much prodding, chef Kent Rathbun finally released a statement confirming that he and former Ruth’s Chris Steak House CEO Bill Hyde have purchased the Abacus and Jasper’s restaurant interest from the estate of the late Robert Hoffman, Rathbun’s longtime backer. The move effectively dissolves the 4511 Restaurant Group L.P., the firm under which the concepts were operated since its launch in 1999. The 4511 group had estimated annual sales of $4.8 million.
Hyde, who is a partner in the Zea Woodfire Grill in Plano, recently formed Briarwood West Investments, L.L.C. to focus on restaurant development. The Zea franchise was Briarwood West’s first acquisition.
Rathbun and Hyde plan to expand Jasper’s -- with locations in Plano, Austin and The Woodlands near Houston -- as well as develop other fine dining restaurant concepts. The move will no doubt be propitious for Rathbun. Hyde is savvy restaurant operator, credited with reanimating the stagnant Ruth’s Chris, quadrupling its value before his retirement in 2003. He reportedly is still a significant stakeholder in the steakhouse. Both Hyde and Rathbun declined to comment. --Mark Stuertz
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