The iconic Legal Sea Foods restaurant chain is getting a new owner, president and CEO Roger Berkowitz confirmed to the Herald on Tuesday.
Legal’s 25-plus restaurants have been sold to PPX Hospitality Brands, a Boston-based hospitality group that owns Smith & Wollensky steakhouses.
The sale also includes the purchase of Legal’s Quality Control Center located in Boston’s Seaport. PPX will now own and operate all restaurant concepts under the Legal Sea Foods banner, including airport locations.
Berkowitz, 68, noted that the coronavirus pandemic — which has crippled the restaurant industry — helped push this deal along.
“The pandemic forced some decisions on our part,” he told the Herald.
His family opened the legendary restaurant business more than 50 years ago.
When asked if this sale would have happened if the pandemic never hit, Berkowitz said, “Probably not,” but he added, “While the pandemic has been horrific, the silver lining is it allows us some opportunities.”
Berkowitz said he will be focusing on the e-commerce and retail side of Legal’s brand.
He will retain exclusive ownership rights of the Legal Sea Foods name in channels outside of restaurant operations, such as e-commerce and retail.
“Yes, we’re selling the restaurant channel, but we are moving into more e-commerce and retail,” he said.
Berkowitz added that his family over the decades has “always adapted over time to new opportunities.”
“In life, you have to pivot,” he said. “Take a look at the landscape, and look ahead to the future.”
Legal Sea Foods employees have been invited to remain as part of the team. When fully operational, PPX said it hopes to employ 3,000 people across all three companies.
PPX has a “long-term view” for Legal, and plans to ramp up with expansion following the pandemic, Berkowitz said.
He added, “The brand will live on.”
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