A deal to sell Gingham to the Cohn Restaurant Group quietly fell through Tuesday night.
The barbecue-themed East County restaurant is still owned by San Diego-based Enlightened Hospitality Group (EHGRP), a company founded in 2009 by businessman James Brennan and “Top Chef” finalist Brian Malarkey. In addition to Gingham, EHGRP operates Searsucker, Burlap, Gabardine and Herringbone, known in dining industry shorthand as “the fabric restaurants.”
Gingham suffered a fire at its La Mesa Boulevard location on Dec. 9. The restaurant, which will see its first anniversary in January, reopened Dec. 13, days before news of its potential sale broke.
Early Tuesday, Brennan said both parties were in discussions but expressed reservations to the U-T.
“Our lawyers are already talking, but it’s by no means done,” Brennan, EHGRP’s managing partner, had said.
By late evening, however, talks of a sale ended.
When asked about the failed negotiations with San Diego veteran restaurateur David Cohn, Brennan said Wednesday: “Like I said, it was less than a 50 (percent) chance.”
“We weren’t able to work out the details,” said Cohn, founder of the Cohn Restaurant Group.
Cohn’s first San Diego restaurant, Rory’s, opened in 1982. His company’s current portfolio of restaurants is made up of 15 properties locally, including the Corvette Diner, the Prado at Balboa Park, Vintana and Indigo Grill.
Neither party would confirm who backed out of the Gingham deal first.
Brennan, who told the U-T that he was approached about selling the restaurant within the last month, said EHGRP is focused on rolling out national replications of Searsucker and Herringbone. This year, Searsucker got cloned and opened in Scottsdale, Ariz. Next April, a Searsucker gets installed in Austin, Texas.
Brennan added that EHGRP was not looking for other potential operators for Gingham.
“No, we’re not shopping Gingham. We never were, and we’re not,” Brennan said.
Read Keli Dailey's full story and more on utsandiego.com
Pictured: James Brennan at Herringbone -- UT