Carlson bought the company in 1975 when it was a decade old and already a singles hotspot. At the time of the purchase there were 12 restaurants in nine states, and Carlson expanded the chain to more than 60 countries.
Carlson is a family-owned company, self described as "one of the largest private companies in the world." It owns Radisson, Country Inns & Suites, and a number of travel and hospitality brands. The American, family-friendly restaurant brand, had annual sales of more than $2.5 billion.
The company reported that it was time to capitalize on the brand. It hired an investment bank to consider the strategy of a sale among other options.
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