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Texas Entrepreneur Takes Over Ventura Restaurant Chain

September 07, 1993|Jack Searles

A Texas entrepreneur has acquired control of the troubled Hudson's Grill restaurant chain and plans to restructure the company and move its headquarters from Ventura to Dallas.

None of five Hudson's-owned units in Ventura County are expected to be affected immediately, but the firm's new head, David L. Osborn, said he hopes to eventually spin off all 13 company-owned restaurants to either franchisees or joint-venture partners, or set up lease-back arrangements.

In all, there are 19 Hudson's Grill of America Inc. units, including five franchised restaurants operated by Osborn in Texas. Most of the rest are in Southern California.

In Ventura County, Hudson's Grills, which emphasize a 1950s look, are located in Westlake Village, Simi Valley, Ventura and Oxnard. A fifth company-owned restaurant in the county, Hornblower's, is at Ventura Harbor.

The company, which has more than 120 employees in Ventura County, also owns State & A, a specialty restaurant in Santa Barbara.

Osborn acquired control by purchasing 2.6 million shares from Chairman Roy J. Millender Jr. Together with shares that Osborn already owned, this gives him 45% of the company's common stock. Charles L. Boppell, who stepped down as president and chief executive, said the new management has assumed Hudson's debts and is arranging to restructure the obligations.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Hudson's said it was in default on a $3.3-million note and that the company had a net loss of $621,000 in this year's first half, compared with a profit of $252,000 in the same period in 1992. Revenues in this year's first half totaled $7.6 million, down from $9.3 million a year earlier.

Boppell, who has headed Hudson's since January, 1989, said he supported the management change and resigned to pursue other interests. "I still own 6% of the stock and I intend to hold on to it," he said. Osborn, who owns a total of 11 restaurants in Texas, said in a statement that he will embark on an aggressive franchising program.

Last April, Hudson's announced the signing of an agreement with a Florida firm that hopes to open at least 16 units in that state in the next five years. That and other expansion plans are still in the works, Boppell said.

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