Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants is reportedly planning to go public this year, according to Bloomberg.
Sources told the media outlet that the casual-dining chain is seeking a valuation of more than $1 billion and working with Bank of America, Jefferies Financial Group Inc., and Piper Sandler Cos.
Cooper's Hawk has close to 50 restaurants, with more than a half-dozen currently in development, according to its website. The brand holds one of the world's largest wine clubs, with more than 540,000 members.
In addition to building its own footprint, the company is opening two spinoff concepts later in 2022.
Esquire by Cooper's Hawk, scheduled to open in Chicago in late spring, will feature a Chief-in-Residence series, starting with chef Tom Colicchio, and followed by former Top Chef contestant Carla Hall. The restaurant will have "re-imagined versions of Cooper’s Hawk favorites as well as menu pairings and happy-hour tastings from the venue’s highly coveted 3,000+ bottle wine collection." Piccolo Buco by Cooper's Hawk, debuting in the first half of 2022 in Oakbrook, Illinois, will "offer a unique style of Neapolitan pizza and classic Roman-style dishes using high-quality ingredients, many sourced from Italy."
The full-service chain was a part of The FSR Growth 23, or brands that defied the pandemic odds in 2020. CEO Tim McEnery told FSR that Cooper's Hawk slowed growth during COVID, but didn't do a full stop. The chain took time to evaluate its path forward. The brand pivoted to a curbside pickup model in less than a week and maintained community ties with virtual wine club events.
“We had these different phases during COVID. So the first one was [shock] mode. After that, it was to try to ensure we could survive financially,” McEnery said. “We just didn’t want to lose that much momentum.”
The brand is backed by private equity firm Ares Management Group, which took a minority stake in 2019. At the time, Cooper's Hawk had about 35 restaurants in 10 states. McEnery attributed much of the restaurant's success to support from Ares.
“Having partners like Ares [Management Corporation], we were very lucky to know that they would always be there to support us,” McEnery said. “I knew we had to be incredibly fiscally disciplined at this moment in time, but if we paused all growth for the entire duration of COVID, we’d regret that after COVID. [Ares] totally agreed, and we just got right back into it.”
After years of little-to-no IPO noise, Krispy Kreme, Dutch Bros Coffee, Sweetgreen, Portillo's, and First Watch, entered the stock market in 2021. Panera Brands, MOD Pizza, and Fogo de Chão announced their intentions to file IPOs, as well.
Cooper's Hawk was founded in 2005 by McEnery. The restaurant is described as a "modern, casual dining experience with warm hospitality in an inviting upscale setting" that offers "a contemporary American menu infused with flavors from around the world."