Chain Beverage Buzz: June 13, 2011

eric HayEric Hay, renowned craft spirits specialist and mixologist, is joining Wirtz Berverage Illinois as the new Beverage Development Manager. Hay will enhance the company’s beverage development and mixology platform by assisting restaurants, nightclubs and bars in updating their beverage programs. He also will lead consumer promotions and brand events.


Golden Gate Capital acquired California Pizza Kitchen Inc., last month for $470 million. Golden Gate’s properties include On The Border Mexican Grill and Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

Michael A. Nahkunst will take over as interim President and CEO of Kona Grill, Inc. after Marc A. Buehler announced he was leaving to pursue other interests. Nahkunst will serve as Buehler’s successor until a permanent replacement is found.

According to the Wine Institute in San Francisco, the U.S. wine market is growing. Domestic wine sales grew 7% last year with Americans ordering more bottles when they dine out rather than single glasses.

The Texas-based Hooters restaurant has entered into an agreement with Million Vodka, an American-made Texas-based vodka company, to have the clear spirit line backbars at all 41 Texas locations; Million Vodka will roll out at Hooters restaurants throughout the state in the next couple of months.

Applebee'sApplebee’s Grill & Bar is moving from Lenexa, Kan., to Kansas Mo. The new headquarters was chosen as a means to cut costs, reducing Applebee’s debt by around $34 million.


In October, the Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill will open at Tempe Marketplace in Tempe, Ariz., taking over the place of the previous Maria Maria location. Thirsty Lion revolutionizes the pub business by combining traditional European and American pub values, creating a great place for food, craft beers, signature cocktails, wines, music and sports.

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