Yard House sells to...owner of Olive Garden?

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Former local boy Steele Platt has made very, very good: Darden Restaurants -- an Orlando-based company that operates Olive Garden and Red Lobster, among other chains -- announced today that it has agreed to buy Yard House USA Inc. for $585 million -- cash, according to Nation's Restaurant News.

There are 39 Yard House stores across the country, including three in Colorado; one opened in Park Meadows on July 1,and the other two are in Colorado Mills and downtown Denver. Platt, who had a series of restaurants in the Tivoli in the '80s, opened the first Yard House in California in 1996.

Platt and Yard House co-founders Harald Herrmann and Carlito Jocson "have created one of the most differentiated and exciting restaurant brands in America today, with average unit volumes and returns on capital that are among the highest in the industry," Clarence Otis, Darden's chief executive, said in a statement."Guests in a number of different markets are responding to Yard House's unique combination of hand-crafted food, premium beers and other beverages, thoughtful soundtracks, and elegantly designed restaurants. This combination has established Yard House as a great place for wide range of occasions."

But Platt and his co-founders won't be collecting all the cash from Darden. Yard House sold a 70 percent stake in the chain to a San Francisco private equity firm back in 2007, according to Orange County Business News.

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