COLUMBUS, OH-Build-to-suit and sale-leaseback firm Alliance Development Group has acquired Damon’s Grill, a chain of 100 sports-themed restaurants throughout the United States as well as one in London. It is the first acquisition of a chain for Charlotte, NC-based Alliance.

Alliance’s plans for the company include adding about 15 units per year nationally, William Burk, the firm’s president told GSR, declining to release the financial terms of the deal. Damon’s restaurants average 6,000 sf. “We have the ability to build in every market in the country simultaneously,” he says, referring to a partnership alliance has with international construction-services firm Bovis Lend Lease.

Alliance first became interested in Damon’s a few years ago when it approached the locally based chain to build sites, Burk says. The firm’s management then found out that Damon’s was having financial difficulties and looking to sell, which led to the transaction.

Other than adding units, Alliance will work to strengthen Damon’s financials and increase the number of restaurants that are operated by franchisees, Burk says. About 20% of its units are currently company owned, and Alliance executives would like to decrease that number to 5%, he says. “That would be a signal to the franchise community that we don’t want to compete with them,” Burk says.

Burk also stresses that this is not a real estate play and that the Alliance staff intends to grow Damon’s, which has retained much of its executive team. “The real estate is not worth as much without a good business in it,” he says. “I think this company can be very profitable.”

Damon’s most recently opened restaurants in Hunt Valley, MD, and Lewisburg, PA. The chain, which was founded in 1979, also has units planned in Bensalem, PA, and Norfolk, VA.

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