Restaurant owner buys Timber Lodge chain

Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal – by John Vomhof Jr. Staff Writer
Taher Inc. has acquired Timber Lodge Steakhouse Inc.

The restaurant chain has 10 locations, eight of which are in Minnesota.

Minnetonka-based Taher Inc., led by founder and CEO Bruce Taher, provides foodservice management for schools, senior-housing facilities and corporate cafeterias in 10 states. The company entered the restaurant brucemarket last year with Wayzata Eatery and since has opened the Alaska Eatery in St. Louis Park and acquired Forepaugh’s Restaurant in St. Paul. It also owns the Nordeast Eatery in northeast Minneapolis.

“They have really good food,” Bruce Taher said about Timber Lodge. “They cook from scratch, which fits our culture of chef-driven restaurants, and I think they provide a good value to customers.”

Taher plans to reopen an Eden Prairie store and expects the 11 stores to generate a combined $20 million.

Bob Campbell, who was part of the previous ownership group that consisted of 10 local investors, said it’s a good deal. “I think it’s a very positive change for Timber Lodge, our employees and our customers, and in the long run for our vendors and everyone else involved,” he said.

That ownership group, T. Lodge Acquisition, acquired the company from Carpinteria, Calif.-based CKE Restaurants Inc. for $8.8 million in September 2004.

Timber Lodge, founded in Minnesota in 1991, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2006, at which time it had 18 locations. After exiting bankruptcy last year, the company hired Plymouth-based investment banking firm Quazar Capital Corp. to seek a sale.

Allan Hickok, managing director of the restaurant industry group at Minneapolis financial advisory firm Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin, said Timber Lodge can be a successful chain. “It’s a small, regional brand that sells steaks, potatoes and salads, so as long as their occupancy costs are reasonable, this can be a very good business. It’s not a very big business, but it has cash flow.” | (612) 288-2101

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