Smith will succeed Bill Allen, who will continue as chairman after his retirement from the corner office on Nov. 15. Allen is one of the gems of the business, so its fortunate he’ll still be involved, albeit somewhat at arm’s length.
Fertitta, the company’s founder and CEO, already owned 55% of Landry’s stock, so you’d think it would have been a cakewalk. But he’s repeatedly run into complications, including a refusal by the board he chairs to disclose information it regarded as confidential. By that time, the board had accepted one of his offers. But rather than divulge inside stuff about the company’s dealings with lenders, the directors changed their mind in January 2009 and told Fertitta the deal was off.
Throughout the gyrations, the crafty suitor was buying shares on the open market. The combination of those purchases and the slide in restaurant stock prices have enabled him to trim his bid to $14.75 a share, compared with the $23.50 he’d originally offered back in January 2008.
Fertitta also bought a sizeable minority stake in McCormick & Schmick’s, a competitor to Landry’s namesake brand.
Even longer in the tooth was Don Roth’s Blackhawk, in the suburb of Wheeling. Don Roth, who opened the landmark in 1969, had been the Wolfgang Puck of his time, imbuing the place with a showmanship that made it the place to copy. Roth’s widow, Ann, is still involved in the business at age 90.
In announcing the restaurant’s closing, she noted that none of their children are interested in taking control of the business.
The restaurant will serve its last prime rib on New Year’s Eve.