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INDUSTRY NOTES

Rusty Pelican Deflects Criticism, Reelects Board

December 11, 1986|MARY ANN GALANTE

Rusty Pelican Restaurants Inc. defused a potentially explosive annual meeting Wednesday by securing proxies from 66.8% of its shareholders and handily reelecting the incumbent board of directors. Rhode Island restaurateur Edward Grace III., who earlier had threatened to launch a takeover bid for the company, remained critical of Rusty Pelican management but did not repeat his call for a change of control.

Grace, who recently has purchased 7.25% of the Irvine-based restaurant chain's stock, or 203,000 shares, is Rusty Pelican's second largest individual shareholder.

Pete Siracusa, the company's chairman and founder, apparently soothed the 100 or so shareholders who attended the hourlong session and deflected most of Grace's questions about the company's low profits.

Siracusa told shareholders that the company is being more careful in its expansion plans, which have proven to be costly in the past, and blamed the 47% dip in profits for its fiscal 1987 first quarter on a downturn in the restaurant industry. He refused to project sales and profits for the current fiscal year but told shareholders, "we've learned to operate . . . with fewer people."

Grace, who repeatedly has criticized management as "sloppy and unproductive," said he remains dissatisfied, had heard nothing new and will continue to monitor the company.

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