Tilman Fertitta of Landry's buys McCormick and Schmick's -- and Morton's could be next

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Late last week, Tilman J. Fertitta, who owns Landry's, Inc., closed a deal to purchase McCormick & Schmick's, a nationwide restaurant chain that has two locations in Denver, including one in the Oxford Hotel.

That spot has been serving up cheap happy hour deals and oysters since 1986 -- before LoDo was LoDo, actually -- and has also been responsible for running the Cruise Room and the hotel's room service.

In November, Fertitta announced his intentions to pay $132 million to acquire the chain in a hostile takeover that closed on December 30. He's now added the two McCormick's restaurants (the second is in the Tech Center) to a Mile High portfolio that includes Oceanaire Seafood Room, Simms Steakhouse, Landry's, a Saltgrass Steak House in Parker and a Saltgrass in Westminster, the Chart House, Willie G's, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and the Downtown Aquarium.

While Fertitta's company won't reveal any specific changes it plans to make to the McCormick & Schmick's restaurants, it does acknowledge that it will be tweaking things -- and that of 92 McCormick & Shmick restaurants nationwide, twelve locations will be closed and others changed to different concepts. There's no word yet on whether the Denver spots will part of those changes; folks at the Oxford are officially mum.

And Fertitta may soon have two more Denver restaurants in his pocket. Last month, he announced plans to acquire the Morton's Restaurant Group, which has over seventy restaurants nationwide -- including one in downtown Denver, just a block from the Oxford.

If that deal goes through, there will be changes at the steakhouses, too. "Morton's is one of the most recognizable and successful high-end steak brands in the world," Fertitta said in a release. "They are a dominant operator in the high-end steak category. Morton's will be refreshed and modernized while still maintaining its first class atmosphere and food quality. The Morton's guests will continue to receive exceptional food and service, and we plan to introduce new food items and expand our culinary offerings."

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