People & Business: Management buys Bean's

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CAPITAL RADIO has sold its American-style Henry J Bean's bar and grill chain to the chain's management, led by Douglas Smillie, for pounds 2.4m.

The media company intends to concentrate on its Radio Cafe and Havana restaurants. Mr Smillie, meanwhile, intends to expand the two Henry J Beans bars in the UK and the 18 franchises around the world, mostly in the Far East.

The original Henry J Bean's (But His Friends All Call Him Hank) Bar & Grill was opened in 1983 in London by the late Bob Payton, an entrepreneur from Chicago. Mr Payton virtually invented the American-style bar/restaurant in this country, and his holding company, My Kinda Town (MKT), also launched the Chicago Pizza Pie Factory, which introduced the deep pan pizza to the UK.

MKT also launched the Chicago Ribshack, a brand which failed to last the pace, and most of which have since been converted to Havana restaurants.

Mr Smillie joined MKT in 1984 as a management trainee, and now he's bought the company, with backing from Guinness Flight Venture Capital Trust, ElderStreet Investments and Downing Classic VCT. He says he is looking for new venues within two hours of London, as well as more in the Far East, where they have proved a hit when sited within large hotels.