In a deal with transatlantic ties, Stephen Starr has sold his catering division, a juggernaut whose $40 million-a-year portfolio includes off-premises weddings, corporate catering, and large-scale events as well as operating restaurants and food concessions inside museums in Philadelphia, New York and Miami.
The purchaser, Charlotte, N.C.-based TrustHouse Services Group, bills itself among the top six contract food service companies in North America; its 7,200 employees serve more than a half-million meals a day through more than 700 client accounts in 47 states, the company said in a statement.
TrustHouse's owner is Elior, the Paris-based contract caterer with operations in 13 countries and 2013-14 sales of 5,341 million euros (nearly $5.8 billion in today's dollars).
Starr Catering CEO Simon Powles, the Englishman whom Starr imported to Philadelphia in 2008 to create the catering division, and COO Guy Kellner, also a Londoner, will report to TrustHouse president and CEO Brian Poplin.
The name Starr Catering and Philadelphia base of operations will remain, a spokeswoman for TrustHouse said. Powles said, "Not only are we staying in our current offices, we are expanding them as a result of this so that we can house our entire team including HR, IT and Accounting and Finance in the same offices."
Starr Catering employs about 1,500 full and part-timers, Powles said.
Starr maintains control of his restaurants, which operate in Philadelphia, New York, Atlantic City, Washington, and south Florida. A Continental in South Beach opened last weekend/
But recipes and signature dishes - many borrowed from Starr menus including Buddakan, Jones, Parc, El Vez, and the Continental - are part of the purchase.
Terms were not disclosed, though Starr called it "an offer I could not refuse."
Starr Catering provides the food at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall and the New-York Historical Society in Manhattan, the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, and the Perez Art Museum in Miami.