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MINNEAPOLIS-Oceanaire, the owner and operator of five seafood restaurants, has raised $20 million in a private convertible stock deal with Clarion Capital Partners, LLC, a New York-based private equity firm. The two-tranche transaction consists of $10 million funded in August and the remaining $10 million expected in August 2005.

The investment was made through a fund managed by Clarion and will result in it holding a 45.4% stake upon completion of its investment. Clarion was interested in investing in Oceanaire because it has the potential to become the “nation’s premier upscale seafood restaurant company,” says Eric D. Kogan, a partner at Clarion.

Clarion Capital Partners is focused on middle-market, growth-oriented businesses. Oceanaire, based in Minneapolis, has restaurants in Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Dallas and Indianapolis. The chain hopes to become the nation’s first power seafood dining concept in offering ultra-fresh seafood selections flown in daily from around the world in an atmosphere reminiscent of the seafood supper clubs of the 1930s and 1940s. The company says it plans to open additional restaurants in San Diego, Atlanta, Miami and Baltimore over the next 12 months.

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