Yard House to be purchased for $585 million by Darden (Olive Garden, Red Lobster)

Discussion in 'Beer News' started by Todd, Jul 13, 2012.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,615) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member

    Hold onto your pints ...

    Darden Restaurants Inc., the parent company behind Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse and The Capital Grille, just announced that they plan to buy the Yard House chain of beer-centric restaurant chain for $585 million in cash from TSG Consumer Partners.

    Based in Irvine, California, the first Yard House was launched on December 7, 1996 by founder Steele Platt on the shores of Long Beach, California. Today there's 39 multi-beer tap locations across 13 states with expansion plans currently in the works. According to their website, Yard House gets its name from "the 3-foot-tall glass containers originally designed in Great Britain and used to hand stagecoach drivers after a long journey by horse drawn carriage."

    Yard House revenue in the second quarter was up 27% over 2011, which is attractive to Darden who hopes to attract younger and wealthier guests as the rest of their portfolio has apparently been struggling to remain appealing in the highly competitive market.

    Darden plans to eventually expand Yard House to 200 locations.

    The acquisition is expected to happen by November 2012.

    Related links:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20120712-715744.html
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/13/olive-garden-yard-house_n_1670894.html
    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-darden-yard-house-20120713,0,1299265.story
    http://blogs.wsj.com/privateequity/...house-in-sale-to-darden/?mod=google_news_blog
     
  2. FosterJM

    FosterJM Champion (835) California Nov 16, 2009

    I wonder if they will expand the beer selection. Some locations have a MUCH better selection than others.

    Cheers!
     
    ChanChan likes this.
  3. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) California Jan 27, 2012

    San Diego Yard House does not have yards, more like 18", and if the beer is over 7.5% it is poured into a pint glass. Worst "living up to the name" ever.

    Do other locations actually serve yards of beer, and not just Coors Light in them?
     
  4. I didn't realize Olive Garden, Red Lobster, etc. were doing that well for their parent company to shell out over 1/2 billion for another chain. On the other hand, with the economy down, and people still wanting to go out to eat once in a while, the cheaper chains are the places of choice. I've only been to the Yard House twice since it's not really convenient but it was an enjoyable experience both times and hopefully nothing will change - especially the beer selection. When you have over 100 to choose from, it doesn't matter if it never changes or if some other location has more - you'll always find something enjoyable to drink and you can still go to your local small beer bar for the newest releases.
     
  5. foobula

    foobula Savant (340) Illinois Dec 14, 2009

    Looks like all their locations do "half yards" which are around 32 oz.

    While the tap list is undoubtedly grand and the food acceptable, most of my visits to bars lately have been for special tappings (parabola, devil dancer, bourbon county). They don't seem to do that at my Yard House, so I haven't been in ages.
     
  6. robconoclast

    robconoclast Aficionado (155) Ohio Jun 22, 2012

    Well....that sucks. Darden's idea of using "fresh" ingredients is to take it out of the freezer, that it out, and microwave it.
     
  7. It's not only Darden's idea, it's the idea of most of the major chains regardless of their [misleading] advertising.
     
  8. Darden does use fresh ingredients at Seasons 52, Longhorn, Capital Grille, and Eddie V's, but you are right at their two biggest chains they don't, mostly. That being said, is Yardhouse using all fresh ingredients, or even the best? I doubt that. Not the greatest thing for the Yardhouse, but if Darden can stop "fixing" things they will be fine.
     
  9. dod629

    dod629 Disciple (50) Massachusetts Mar 23, 2010


    Yard House now has a Chalkboard Series, with rotating taps. Fenway has Devil Dancer on tap, and Dedham has Bourbon County, along with four other rotating, limited release selections.
     
  10. robconoclast

    robconoclast Aficionado (155) Ohio Jun 22, 2012

    Oh for sure. I am a disgruntled former Darden Corporate minion but Applebees' Fridays, etc work the same (Outback is real-deal fresh though). Their profit margins are huge as the frozen processed swill is cheaper. I'm thinking that they see this as a profitable venture due to the increase of craft beer sales in the U.S. I've worked for three different Darden chains. Before Longhorn they owned Smokey Bones and their BBQ was as authentic as Olive Garden's Italian.
     
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  11. BassBone

    BassBone Initiate (0) California Jul 14, 2005

    This can only end badly for the Yard House. By the way, I believe they stopped using the yard glasses because people were drinking too much with them and/or stealing them.
     
  12. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) California Jan 27, 2012

    They should change the name to Foot and a Half House then.
     
    HoppyShirts likes this.
  13. Drunk retards were constantly breaking them (swordfighting was a common occurrence). So people can talk about "false advertising" with our company name as much as they want, you can't run a restaurant with broken glass spills left and right. Also, each of those glasses are hand blown, not mass produced, and that does not make them cheap.
     
  14. jtmartino

    jtmartino Savant (480) California Dec 11, 2010

    Awesome when a restaurant employee calls his customers "drunk retards."

    That'll help business.
     
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  15. My mistake. You're right. People swinging glass at each other in a social setting deserve more respect
     
  16. If the shoe fits.....
     
    nanobrew likes this.
  17. denver10

    denver10 Champion (900) Kentucky Nov 17, 2010

    Seems like a fit to me.

    I certainly respect their beer menu but everything else about Yard Houses screamed corporate chains. The culture was stiff and bland, the food generic and i don't think any good, but they got their schtick and their beer menu's are certainly a decent size filled with a ton of respectable beers.
     
  18. jtmartino

    jtmartino Savant (480) California Dec 11, 2010

    I disagree - they have a huge menu that is far from "average," although the quality is hit or miss. The servers or bartenders at the locations I've been to were pretty ignorant regarding their beer lists, so for a beer-oriented establishment they're lacking in that field. You might even call the employees "retards."
     
  19. The place should be renamed "we don't sell yards anymore, if you want a non BMC beer it comes in a 12oz pour"
     
  20. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,615) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member

    The Yard House in Boston serves most of their beers as 16oz pours. Always fresh and reasonably priced too.
     
  21. Domingo

    Domingo Champion (945) Colorado Apr 23, 2005

    The ones out here in Denver aren't bad at all. While the downtown one is a bit needless, the ones in the 'burbs are great for people that can't make it to the prime beer spots very often.
    Decent prices and a good selection - including a few micro/nano taps from the local spots, too. They're a suburban savior at times.
     
  22. leedorham

    leedorham Champion (835) Washington Apr 27, 2006

    I've never been to a Yard House but from all the posts so far, it seems like there is quite a bit of variation in selection and service between locations. Perhaps being bought out by a corporation that values consistency is a good thing.
     
  23. I'm wondering if maybe there national contracts (i.e. stone) have 16oz pours where as there local allocations have 12 oz pour. The one in IL had Bell's and Founders and the Founders was 12oz pours.

    Overall, Yard house beats the hell out of most national chains but the days of ordering a yard of Stone IPA or Arrogant Bastard are since gone...
     
  24. Jays2716

    Jays2716 Aspirant (45) Missouri Jul 16, 2012

    The pours are based on abv, style, and cost of the beer.
     
  25. um... I would guess it's cost of the beer because the others don't make sense. Regardless, it's inconsistent.
     
  26. DrAwkward82

    DrAwkward82 Savant (305) California Apr 16, 2005

    Yeah, Yard House has always been the epitome of 'quantity, not quality' for me, so I was surprised to see the new chalkboard series at the LA Live YH included solid, harder-to-find offerings like 120 Minute, Parabola and Hangar 24 Essence.
     
  27. Jays2716

    Jays2716 Aspirant (45) Missouri Jul 16, 2012

    abv mainly because of third-party liability laws in a number of states, style based on both tradition and ideal serving conditions (eg, lambics retain carbonation better in a tulip than a shaker pint) and cost b/c people would freak out if you charged $10 for a tripple in a lot of markets. As far as inconsistency, I saw was that maybe the case with DIPA's and IRS's (should be served in the tulips), other than that I don't see it.
     
  28. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poobah (1,135) Arizona Jun 18, 2002

    I just had pint pours of Sofie and some Odell Douple Pils at my Yardhouse. They're hitting the quality offerings much better now with the chalkboard offerings.
     
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  29. Arbitrator

    Arbitrator Initiate (0) California Nov 26, 2008

    I came in here to point out those are 3 places I'd never go anyway, but the love for Yardhouse above has me curious. Has anyone hit the San Jose Yardhouse? How is it?
     
  30. JohnQ

    JohnQ Aficionado (125) California Jul 7, 2012

    I'm somehow surprised and yet not surprised.I had heard of Yardhouse in Roseville (Ca) but had no idea it was a chain.Now it all makes sense.I've never been there,but had wanted to try it.It kinda sounds like BJ's.Although I like Bj's for their service.And the have a reasonable selection of beers too.

    Funny that the same Corp owns Olive Garden (I don't go there) and Red Lobster (never been).I tried Olive Garden on 2 occaisons.Overcooked pasta.And this was about 18 years ago before the big foodie movement.You couldn't get away with that now.So when I see the commercial stating chefs trained in Italy I laugh.As far as Red Lobster,well I live in California.If I want seafood I can go to a place that serves FRESH.But not Joe's Crab Shack.(Another story)
     
  31. Domingo

    Domingo Champion (945) Colorado Apr 23, 2005

    One item worth mentioning - I have yet to see a Yard House (I've been to a bunch all over the country) that doesn't have Rogue Hazelnut Brown on tap. I find that beer to be wonderful in any circumstances, so that's at least one really good tap I can count on at all of them. The selections definitely vary a bit - but don't be afraid to look for local stuff on the menu. Most of them will have at least one tap from small breweries close to their location.
     
  32. Regardless of the amount of respect said customers deserve, no employee of any business should ever post a statement like that on a public forum, particularly with a word such as "retard." If I ever did this (no matter how the customer was acting), I'd be instantly fired.
     
  33. When I'm a guest, I give scathing criticism to the restaurant when warranted. When I worked at one, I had no problems giving scathing criticism about the guests...after they were gone. It doesn't help business when they're there, but when they're gone, there's nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade. It's a shame that it's ok for guests to have expectations of the restaurant they're in...yet outside of "No shoes, no shirt, no service," people don't think businesses should have expectations or standards for their patrons. Again, to make sure I'm clear...calling a patron a "drunk retard" is inappropriate. However, two morons sword fighting with yard glasses are at the very LEAST, "morons", whether they're drunk or not.
     
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  34. RC51Mike

    RC51Mike Aficionado (240) Delaware Dec 17, 2004

    I think "morons" is inappropriate also. Please refer to such patrons as oafish wife-beater wearing BMC swilling louts.
     
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  35. jtmartino

    jtmartino Savant (480) California Dec 11, 2010

    So here's a question for luisc123 or other people in the know - what is the turnover rate for the beer? I would assume that some of the more obscure beers probably take a long time to finish, which can definitely affect the quality of the beer.
     
  36. Jays2716

    Jays2716 Aspirant (45) Missouri Jul 16, 2012

    Beers that don't sell are replaced. At the YH I worked at, most beers turned over in 1-2 weeks, some as quickly as every other day. Rarely did we keep any beers that wouldn't turn in a month. At regular bars I have worked at, I have seen beers like Stella turn over slower than most of the bottom brands we had at YH. You have to understand, more obscure beers sell because of their rarity, and, in the case of most Belgians, come in a 1/6 barrel to begin with.
     
  37. champ103

    champ103 Champion (870) Texas Sep 3, 2007

    Yawn, bland corporate chain gets bought out by owners of bland corporate chains. I sure hope the two Yardhouse's in Texas are not the norm, because atmosphere, selection, quality, service and food suck at both the Houston and San Antonio locations. Can't think of one reason to ever go.
     
  38. COBeerBuff

    COBeerBuff Savant (335) Kansas Jan 4, 2009

    Would've liked this post better if there had been quotes around "beer-centric", as would most of the other BAs who chimed in on this topic.

    The one positive is the Yard House has some decent beers, and this acquisition means that the gift cards my family members insist on handing out at holiday time will actually be able be put to good use. I like good food as much as the next guy, but sometimes I want to drink my presents! ;)
     
    keithmurray likes this.
  39. russpowell

    russpowell Poobah (1,115) Oklahoma May 24, 2005

    If it gets beer into some of the more remote areas devoid of good choices, then great. Probably a big yawner for for most BAs in more populated areas...
     
  40. Todd

    Todd Founder (1,615) Colorado Aug 23, 1996 Staff Member

    Fact: Yard House is beer-centric, both conceptually and visually. While you might personally take issue with what beers they serve, or whatever, it's still a fact. Of course whether or not they continue to be has yet to be seen.

    Side-note: Last time I was at the Fenway/Boston location I had one of the freshest Green Flash West Coasts IPAs I've ever had in town. Go figure.
     
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