Rare Hospitality group is sold to Orlando firm for $1.4 billion

Darden Restaurants Inc., the owner of Red Lobster, Bahama Breeze and Olive Garden, has bought Atlanta-based Rare Hospitality International Inc. for $38.15 a share, or $1.4 billion. Rare Hospitality owns and franchises 287 Longhorn Steakhouse restaurants and 28 Capital Grille restaurants.

Orlando-based Darden said the all-cash offer is a 39 percent per share premium over Rare’s average closing stock price during the past 30 days.

The sale was approved by both boards of directors and is expected to close in October.

“We believe this transaction represents a compelling realization of value for Rare’s shareholders, offers tremendous opportunity for our team members, and puts our brands even more firmly on a path to achieving their full potential,” said Philip J. Hickey Jr., chairman and CEO of Rare Hospitality. “For our team members, it means becoming a part of one of the most successful restaurant companies in history. Darden has the right culture and the resources to help Longhorn and Capital Grille prosper in an intensely competitive industry.”

Hickey will serve for 12 months as an exclusive advisor to Darden.

Rare President and Chief Operating Officer Gene Lee will become president of Darden’s new Specialty Restaurant Group, which will include Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52.

Darden owns and operates nearly 1,400 Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Smokey Bones and Seasons 52 restaurants with annual sales of $5.6 billion.

Publix names Atlanta Division leader

Publix Super Markets Inc. has promoted its Lakeland [Fla.] Division Regional Director Chuck Roskovich to vice president of the Atlanta Division.

He replaces Bob Moore, who helped bring Publix to metro Atlanta and will retire after 44 years with the company on Dec. 31.

Roskovich began his Publix career in 1975 in Lauderhill, Fla., as a front-service clerk. He spent much of his early career in the meat department. In 1992, he opened the first Atlanta Division store in Marietta, Ga., as meat manager. He became a store manager in 1993 and was promoted to district manager in 1995. Since 2000, he has been a regional director in the Lakeland Division for the southwest region.

RockBridge Bank names 2 to board

RockBridge Commercial Bank has appointed two new members to its board of directors: Carol Cookerly, president of Cookerly Public Relations and Rebecca I. Flick, vice president and treasurer for The Home Depot.

Cookerly and Flick join a board that includes Carl Burr, Bud Carter, John Collins, James Grein, David Hanson, Charles Lipman, William Porter, Lawrence Smith, Dr. D. Arnold Tillman and David Zalik.

Cookerly founded Cookerly Public Relations in 1991 as a full service communications firm. Flick started her career at The Home Depot in 1996 as treasury manager, overseeing all elements of the company’s treasury activities.

Atlanta-based RockBridge closed on the largest banking capitalization in Georgia history last year at $36.6 million and opened the doors of its Sandy Springs office on Glenridge Drive nine months ago. RockBridge targets commercial clients seeking $1 million to $5 million for working capital, expansion and real estate needs.