Xavier Cervera’s Nine Capitol Hill Restaurants Sold To Boston Equity Firm
by Larry Janezich
Last night Xavier Cervera confirmed that he has closed a deal to sell all nine of his Capitol Hill area restaurants to a Boston equity firm experienced in the restaurant business and seeking to enter the Washington market. The restaurants include the recently re-opened Hawk & Dove, Boxcar Tavern, The Chesapeake Room, Lola’s Barracks Bar & Grill, Molly Malone’s, Pacifico, Senart’s Oyster & Chop House. The eighth is the soon-to-open Park Tavern in Canal Park, and the ninth, Willie’s Brew and Que, will open on the Southeast Waterfront later this year. The restaurants were developed in partnership with an investor from Miami and employ some 340 people at the nine venues.
Asked for comment regarding the sale, which reportedly was finalized on New Year’s Eve, Cervera said, “Not much to discuss. Great offer..good timing..experienced group.”
Last December Capitol Hill Corner first reported that Cervera was considering offers. Cervera told Capitol Hill Corner at the time: “I have been approached by a private equity group out of Boston and have made large offers which I have not accepted. The offers grow larger every week. They have a lot of experience in the restaurant business. They have looked very closely at my operation and like what they see. They are being very aggressive.” Cervera added: “I am close to all of my restaurants and the 345 employees. You don’t build this kind of operation in four and a half years without great staff. It’s hard to let something like that go.”
The equity group that bought out Cervera is reportedly headed by his brother and has other restaurant franchises. Xavier’s brother is currently in Washington and is actively managing the restaurant group. Part of the deal was Xavier’s continued involvement in the management as a consultant. According to regulars of some of the restaurants, the new owners have made some personnel changes involving long time employees which Xavier is not happy about.
This would not be the first time Cervera sold his developments as a package. Originally from Miami, he developed several boutique hotels there and sold them as a package some 15 years ago. It’s not clear what Cervera’s next venture will be, but he is reported to own property in the Shaw/Logan Circle area.