Gordon Biersch & Rock Bottom Merge

gordon-biersch rock-bottom
Wow, this is big news in the world of brewpubs. The headline reads “Rock Bottom Restaurants and Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group Combine to Become CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries, Inc.” Both Gordon Biersch and Rock Bottom were two of the largest brewpub chains in the country. Their combined size, including the Old Chicago chain, will be nearly 200 locations nationwide.

Here’s the press release:

Centerbridge Capital Partners, L.P. and its related entities (“Centerbridge”), formed CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc. (“CraftWorks”) by closing on concurrent acquisitions of Rock Bottom Restaurants, Inc. (“Rock Bottom”) and Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group, Inc. (“Gordon Biersch”) today. The companies will operate as subsidiaries of CraftWorks and will retain their brands. The combined business becomes the nation’s leading operator and franchisor of brewery and craft beer-focused casual dining restaurants with nearly 200 owned and franchised locations across the United States. CraftWorks’ primary concepts include Old Chicago, Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch.

CraftWorks is led by Frank Day and Allen Corey. Frank Day, founder of Rock Bottom, serves as Chairman of the Board and brings over 45 years of restaurant experience to the newly formed company. Allen Corey, an original investor and 13 year CEO of Gordon Biersch, is the President and CEO of CraftWorks and brings over 18 years of restaurant experience to the position.

Regarding the formation of CraftWorks, Frank Day stated, “This merger marks a new era for both Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch and I am very excited about the growth potential that the future holds for CraftWorks.”

“Gordon Biersch, Old Chicago and Rock Bottom are differentiated casual dining concepts with strong guest loyalty, high energy atmospheres and a high quality offering of craft beer and made-from-scratch food,” stated Jason Mozingo, a Managing Director at Centerbridge. “We are excited by the prospect of partnering with the management teams to strengthen the long-term operating performance of the business and position it for growth.”

Mr. Corey said, “I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the combined company. There is a long-standing relationship between Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch which will facilitate a smooth and efficient integration of the two businesses. With the help of our new financial sponsor, Centerbridge, we look forward to a successful future as the nation’s leading brewery and craft beer-focused casual dining restaurant operator.”

Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group, Inc was formerly majority owned by Hancock Park Associates. Rock Bottom Restaurants, Inc. was owned by founder Frank Day and his investment group.

Duff & Phelps Securities, LLC, an affiliate of Duff & Phelps LLC (NYSE: DUF), and North Point acted as the exclusive financial advisors to Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch, respectively, in connection with this transaction. Faegre & Benson and Miller Martin acted as legal advisors to Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch, respectively.

Centerbridge was advised by Weil, Gotshal & Manges. Duff & Phelps Securities, LLC, also advised CraftWorks on the acquisition of Gordon Biersch. Wells Fargo and GE Capital were joint-lead arrangers for a $150 million credit facility to support the transaction.

There are no plans for re-branding or closing any units at this time.

About CraftWorks

CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc., through its three principal operating units, Old Chicago, Gordon Biersch and Rock Bottom, is the nation’s leading operator and franchisor of craft beer-focused casual dining and brewery restaurants with nearly 200 owned and franchised locations across the United States. CraftWorks also operates strong regional brands, including ChopHouse and Big River and maintains intellectual property rights to the Boulder Beer, Inc. microbrewery. The company maintains dual headquarters in Chattanooga, TN and Louisville, CO. For additional information, please visit www.craftworksrestaurants.com

The new CraftWorks website gives the following information on their homepage:

CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries proudly serves the finest in craft beer and made-from-scratch creative cuisine. With nearly 200 restaurants operating under 14 different brands, we employ close to 12,000 people in serving approximately 80,000 guests each day. Our restaurants range from traditional casual dining concepts to fine dining white tablecloth establishments.

Our largest brands include Old Chicago, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants and Rock Bottom Restaurant Breweries. With over 70 of our locations featuring fresh brewed beer on-site, we are the world’s leading operator of brewery restaurants.

Our breadth across the nation ranges from the most densely populated urban centers such as Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington D.C. to more rural locations such as Killeen, Texas and Fargo, North Dakota. Regardless of concept or location, our guests have come to know us for unique, made-from-scratch food, craft beer and unbeatable service. Our Loyalty Programs are amongst the largest and most popular in the restaurant industry with over half a million active members enjoying such rewards as personalized Brewer Dinners, specialty merchandise and fantasy vacation trips.


  1. Adam says

    Why bother?
    (other than to make more money for one entity at the top–which could mean making more trickling down if leadership allows)
    What happened to just being happy with something successful?

  2. says

    Sounds like marketers have a stranglehold on whatever it is GB has morphed into. It’s too bad, they had some good brewers whose talents they squandered clinging to a tired brewpub chain formula.

  3. Sharon Wisdom says

    The private equity groups will do fine – Centerbridge, Hancock Parks and Frank Day’s investment group. Hancock, Day & Day’s group score big on this deal. They cash out. However, a company that claims it plans to maintain “Dual Headquarters” is lying. Lift the lid and look at elimination of redundant management (Colorado). Talk to Rock Bottom people in the trenches. It’s ugly. It’s not scheduled to get prettier. And, as a constant patron of RB, the immediate impact on the menu has been disastrous.


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