I've been wanting to do a post like this for months now, a post where I can share some of the "fun facts" I've learned as ToNeTo Atlanta has grown. After the jump please enjoy a handful of tidbits regarding the founding, growth and sale of some of the best known brands in America.
Neiman-Marcus was started in Dallas, Texas in 1907 by Herbert Marcus Sr, his sister Carrie Marcus Neiman, and her husband A.L. Neiman. With $25,000 from the successful sales-promotion firm they had built in Atlanta, the trio had two investment opportunities. Opting not to take a chance on the "sugary soda pop business," the three entrepreneurs rejected The Coca-Cola Company and chose instead to return to Dallas to open what would become Neiman-Marcus. In 1987, General Cinema purchased Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman from Carter Hawley Hale. General Cinema bought publisher Harcourt Brace and renamed the parent company Harcourt General. In 1999, Harcourt General spun off Neiman Marcus stores, NM Direct and Bergdorf Goodman as a separate entity, The Neiman Marcus Group. General Cinemas filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2000 and after a series of closures, the shrunken company was purchased by AMC Theatres in 2002.
Columbia Pictures first began in 1918 as C.B.C. Film Sales, and was renamed Columbia Pictures on January 10, 1924. In 1982, Columbia Pictures was purchased by Coca-Cola. Columbia remained part of Coke until 1987, when Coke spun it off. In 1989, Japanese electronics maker Sony purchased Columbia Pictures .
In 1970, General Mills acquired Red Lobster as a five-unit company. In 1995, General Mills spun off Red Lobster and sister chain Olive Garden into a separate, publicly traded company known as Darden Restaurant Group. (Red Lobster was co-founded by Bill Darden) Last week, Darden announced it would sell the Red Lobster chain to San Francisco-based Golden Gate Capital for $2.1 billion.
Atlanta's R. Thomas restaurant on Peachtree Road was founded by Richard Thomas. Far from the healthful options found on the R. Thomas menu, Richard earlier had been a co-founder of Bojangles' in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1977.
Dave Thomas founded Wendy's in 1969. Before getting into the burger business Thomas was first heavily involved with the branding and franchising of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) in the mid 1950's through the mid 1960's.