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HEARD ON THE BEAT / RESTAURANTS

A Renewed Push to Sell Marie Callender

May 04, 1999|GREG HERNANDEZ | Greg Hernandez covers the restaurant industry for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5989 and at greg.hernandez@latimes.com

An attempt to sell Marie Callender Restaurants & Bakeries, a well-known chain that began as a pie-baking family business 50 years ago, is expected to be revived within the next month, according to officials at the Orange-based chain.

The chain's parent company, Wilshire Group of New York, had hired a securities firm to begin exploring a sale last fall, but the effort never really got off the ground.

"We're getting the thing cranked up again," said President and Chief Executive Officer Len Dreyer. "We made the announcement that the company is for sale, but nothing has happened since then. We felt market conditions weren't right."

Montgomery Securities of San Francisco is expected to begin making informal inquiries of parties interested in buying the chain of 164 restaurants, 15 of which are in Orange County.

Dreyer said the time for a sale seems right this time because sales at restaurants that have been open for more than a year are on the upswing. "We really do expect that to continue," he said.

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