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News Briefs for November 18, 2011

November 18, 2011

•Diageo’s global distribution pact with Jose Cuervo Tequila expires in just over 18 months, and CEO Paul Walsh says renewal will require some changes to the deal. “The terms and conditions of the agreement would need some revision from our perspective,” Walsh told journalists at the Diageo conference in New York this week. “I don’t think, quite candidly, that we make enough money out of the brand. We’re offering incredible global distribution, and that should come at a certain price.” Walsh noted that he has “huge respect for the brand and for the Beckmann family” and expressed confidence that a new deal could be hammered out. The current Diageo-Cuervo agreement runs to June 2013.

•Local business and restaurant review site Yelp has filed for an initial public offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to the registration filing, Yelp hopes to raise approximately $100 million. The number of shares and price range have yet to be announced. Underwriters for the potential Yelp IPO include Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Jefferies & Company, Allen & Company and Oppenheimer & Co. Yelp’s filing follows the recent $13 billion IPO from daily deal site Groupon, which began trading on the Nasdaq November 4.

•Corona Extra and Corona Light will unveil new packaging in the spring of 2012, marking the first time in the brand family’s history that the entire line will undergo a redesign. Corona Extra will adopt a blue and white color palette while Corona Light will adopt a yellow and white color scheme. Both will add an SKU identifier to the top left corner and feature bottle graphics on the side panels.

•Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. is set to buy up 15 of its franchised units. Located in Ohio and South Carolina, the 15 restaurants are currently operated by franchisees David Fisher, Eric Lundgren, John Slaughenhaupt and Brad Haber. Buffalo Wild Wings will be funding the purchase with available cash. Minneapolis-based Buffalo Wild Wings owns or franchises more than 800 restaurants in 46 U.S. states and Canada.

•Chef Jose Garces is opening his first West Coast restaurant in Palm Springs, California, with details such as name and cuisine yet to be revealed. The Garces Restaurant Group recently opened outposts of Garces’s Philadelphia-based restaurant Distrito and marketplace Jose Garces Trading Company at Drinkwater hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona. Garces opened his first restaurant, Amada, in Philadelphia in 2005, and since then has opened six other restaurants and bars, a gourmet market and a Mexican food truck.

•Restaurants Unlimited, Inc. has opened a new concept, Portland Seafood Company, in southeast Portland, Oregon. The 6,400-square-foot eatery’s menu is focused on fresh, sustainable seafood at affordable prices (entrées are $8-$25). The restaurant also has a full bar, with draft beers and wine by the glass for $4 and specialty cocktails for $7. Seattle, Washington-based Restaurants Unlimited has 21 brands in 11 states, including Portland City Grill, Palomino Restaurant & Bar and Stanford’s.

•Roy Choi, chef and owner of two Los Angeles restaurants and creator of the popular Kogi BBQ food truck, is opening a third restaurant in Los Angeles called Sunny Spot, featuring a West Indian, African- and Caribbean-inspired menu. Sunny Spot will be divided into three spaces: the “Rum Den” for reserved seating, the “Candy Room,” which has a long “Burlap Bar,” and the patio for walk-in service and a more casual atmosphere.

•Ultimat vodka has launched a Facebook app entitled The Social Life Audit, an extension of its $8 million “Find Balance, Find Ultimat” campaign unveiled last month. The app uses Face.com’s facial recognition API and access to the network’s database of entertainment and nightlife venues to analyze the user’s Facebook profile and score their social life. The app also gives suggestions for improving scores and lets users compare their scores with those of their Facebook friends.

•Dry Creek Valley-based Sbragia Family Vineyards, jointly owned by the Sbragia family and Bacchus Capital Management, has appointed Steve Cousins as general manager. Cousins previously held a variety of executive roles with companies including Kimco Restaurant Group, Racke USA, WineQuest and Freemark Abbey. Most recently, he owned and operated Cousins Consulting, a strategic business planning firm catering to several California wineries.

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