Gladstone's 4 Fish, a Los Angeles beachfront institution, has been sold back to its original owner and a prominent Orange County businessman.
Restaurant Enterprises Group of Irvine sold Gladstone's, a seafood house located at the base of Sunset Boulevard near Pacific Palisades, and another restaurant, R.J.'s the Rib Joint in Beverly Hills, to IHV Corp. for $13.5 million.
IHV is owned by Gladstone's founder, Robert J. Morris, and former Balboa Bay Club president Richard S. Stevens.
Morris sold Gladstone's and R.J.'s to W. R. Grace Co. in 1983 for $6.5 million, and the the two restaurants were later acquired by Restaurant Enterprises in a leveraged buyout. Morris has remained manager throughout the ownership changes.
Gladstone's serves 1.1 million guests a year, with gross receipts of $13 million, which Morris said makes it the top restaurant in sales in California and eighth-largest in the nation.
"I'm thrilled at owning the company again," said Morris from his office at Gladstone's.
He said he sold the two restaurants seven years ago so that he could pay off loans from his father before he died. And he has no regrets about having to pay twice what he sold it for to get it back.
"It's a lot more money, and we made it worth a lot more money," Morris said.
Stevens, now a resident of Bel Air, described Gladstone's as "the eighth wonder of the world" and said the deal is the first of several ventures IHV is planning.
Morris, who grew up in Malibu, built Gladstone's in 1972 along the Pacific Coast Highway. Its fresh fish menu and picturesque location gave the restaurant a distinctly California appeal that attracted locals and visitors alike. The restaurant features barrels of free peanuts for waiting customers and chocolate chips served with after-dinner coffee.