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Irvine Outlet Is First to Adopt Tex-Mex Menu : Hershel's Chain to Become Spoons Restaurants

June 22, 1989|MARY ANN GALANTE | Times Staff Writer

Oy vey! Hershel's Deli & Bakery is swapping its matzo-ball soup for a Tex-Mex menu.

The chain of seven New York-style delis is being converted into Spoons restaurants by American Restaurant Group in Newport Beach, which purchased Hershel's this spring.

Anwar Soliman, president of American Restaurant Group, bought Hershel's "with the intention of making them into Spoons," a company spokeswoman said Wednesday. The Hershel's restaurants were bought for undisclosed terms from James Collins, chairman of Collins Foods International in Los Angeles.

Spoons, an existing chain owned by Soliman's firm, dishes up moderately priced fare that includes fajitas, taco salads and quesadillas, as well as burgers and ribs.

Earlier this week, a newly remodeled Hershel's near UC Irvine reopened as Spoons. The deli-style bakery has been replaced by the Dillo Club, which serves margaritas and beer instead of bear claws and rye bread.

A Hershel's in Fullerton should reopen as a Spoons next week. A Santa Ana restaurant, also closed now, will convert to a Spoons later this summer, the spokeswoman said.

Three other Hershel's in Southern California will also become Spoons. They are in Riverside, San Bernardino and Rowland Heights. A seventh restaurant in Troy, Mich., will be sold, the spokeswoman said.

The acquisition marks Soliman's second purchase of a chain founded by Harold Butler, former chairman of Naugles Inc. American Restaurant Group bought Naugles--along with competitor Del Taco--on March 30, 1988, and is merging both chains under the Del Taco moniker.

Butler started Hershel's in 1983. The chain filed for bankruptcy three years later after a proposed public offering failed. Butler filed for personal bankruptcy at the same time.

An experienced restaurateur, Butler also founded the giant Denny's coffee-shop chain, as well as Winchell's Donut House, JoJo's, Sam's Hofbrau, O.J.'s, Harold's Dinner House and several lesser-known chains.

Besides Spoons, American Restaurant Group owns the Velvet Turtle, Black Angus and Grandy's chains, as well as a number of trendy restaurants including Prego, Harry's Bar & Grill, Chianti and Ciao.

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