Private equity firm Bear Stearns Merchant Banking and a management team led by Fresh Fields founder Mark Ordan have announced the acquisition of Sutton Place Group, which owns and operates gourmet food stores including Balducci's, Sutton Place Gourmet and Hay Day Country Farm Markets.

Earlier this year, Balducci's closed its store in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. Bear Stearns said that together with the management team, it planned to "return the company to its former position of prominence", reported Reuters.

"These businesses represent a tradition of providing the finest food available. We will return to that tradition by focusing on great food, old fashioned service and physical store improvements. Combining this with the resources of Bear Stearns Merchant Banking will enable very significant growth," Ordan said. 

Ordan founded and was chief executive of natural food supermarket chain Fresh Fields, which he later sold to Whole Foods Market.

Sutton Place Group is a gourmet food retailer with 11 high-end stores operating under three brands: one as Balducci's in New York City, six as Sutton Place Gourmet in Washington, DC and four as Hay Day Country Farm Markets in the New York and Connecticut areas.