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Stephen Starr sells catering division

The purchaser, TrustHouse Services Group, bills itself among the top six contract food service companies in North America.

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.

Last month, eight Starr workers filed a lawsuit in New York, contending that Starr Events pocketed gratuities after the company had billed the venues for such items as "service charge," personnel fee," and "staffing charge." Starr said, "What's alleged in this action is not true."