Local San Diego restaurant goes bankrupt! Say Goodbye To Pat and Oscar’s.
October 5, 2011 1 Comment
Apparently another victim of the economic crisis that seems to still be gripping America, Pat and Oscars filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in September with the last three corporate stores closing on 9/27/11. A chapter 7 means that they will be liquidating the company and not reorganizing it as they would in a chapter 11. This could mean the end of Pat and Oscars but possibly it will survive in some form as it was alluded to in an article the “Restaurant News”.
According to that article there are numerous franchised stores out there that are not operated by the corporation but are in fact operated by individuals. Many of these people undoubtably want to continue with the operation of their restaurants as they have families to feed and bills to pay. But the question becomes how do they do this when the corporation goes bankrupt?
The company did everything it could in the past to keep the brand alive including cutting costs and creating a new proto-type store. None of this worked though to save the company as sagging sales and a bad economy has claimed another restaurant victim. People do tend to eat at home more in a down economy as they have far less disposable income. I usually tell my clients to eat at home more to cut their expenses after filing a personal bankruptcy.
So nobody blames Pat an Oscars for filing but the individual franchise owners could be left in the lurch. But according to the article there is possibly a way out for them. The company itself has been around since 1991 when it was founded by Pay and Oscar Sarkisian. Sizzler bought it in 2000 for $16 million and Sizzler became Worldwide Restaurant Concepts which was then acquired by Pacific Equity Partners in 2005. In the bankruptcy the parent company was listed as “FFPE LLC”.
They got a new chief executive in 2008 and they tried to grow the restaurant and that didn’t work. When they filed bankruptcy there were 14 locations of which 9 were owned by franchisees. These franchisees could get liquidated too if they are not careful but there is an alternative. In the article they say they will have to “go to court”. That is true if they want to save the brand and operate it themselves.
The problem is that they are now part of a bankrupt corporation. That bankrupt corporation will have debts. It is the job of the Trustee in any chapter 7 bankruptcy to liquidate any assets the corporation may have to pay creditors. It is possible though that in the franchise agreement for Pat and Oscars the franchisees are owners of all of the property in their restaurants and they just have some contractual agreement to purchase supplies from the mother corp. Then their individual store assets would fall outside of the bankrupt estate.
That still leaves the name of Pat and Oscar’s. That is surely owned by the corp. and the trustee would probably be duty bound to sell the name as that is an asset of the estate. But according to an article in “Sign on San Diego” the parent company is listing assets of $331,459 and liabilities of $4.1 million so we know that there are considerable debts owed to creditors who will want to get paid from any asset that the Trustee can discover.
But also the article quotes a “consultant” who says that the franchisees will have to first form an association and then petition the court to use the name. This is possible I believe as they will have to form a new business as the old one is defunct. It is also possible that the trustee will allow the use of the name if he determines that it has no value to the estate. It is unlikely that anyone would buy it so the franchisees would at most have to pay a nominal fee for its use and they could possibly use it for free is the trustee abandons the name.
Then they would take this new business and operate their restaurants and they could even change the name to something similar if they can’t get the name or if they don’t want to pay for the name. This is not unprecedented according to the “Restaurant News” article as “Ground Round” franchisees in Boston operated their 24 restaurants after their parent company went bankrupt. 80 units of “Bennigans Steak and Ale” were similarly operated under a new franchisee owned business after their parent company went bankrupt.
Therefore it is possible that we will see more of Pat and Oscars as it is certainly okay from a bankruptcy perspective to operate a new franchisee owned restaurant chain after a parent company bankrupts. The question though is if the restaurants can operate profitably in this down economy. We shall see.
So you still may be able to take the family to Pat and Oscars in the future.
I am a bankruptcy attorney practicing bankruptcy law in San Diego, CA. Please visit my websites for further information at www.farquharlaw.com or www.freshstartsandiego.com. Or call my office for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015. Call now for a free credit report and analysis!
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