Tuesday, July 29, 2008 , Updated 11:31 a.m., October 20, 2008
UPDATEDX2: Plano-based Bennigan’s chain shuts down
Where will we go for St. Patrick's Day now?
The Bennigan's restaurant chain is shut down as of 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Bennigan's is managed by Plano-based Metromedia Restaurant Group, which also owns Plano Tavern, Southlake Tavern, and 29 Degrees, which were also shut down. Managers at Southlake Tavern were calling employees on Tuesday morning and telling them not to come in.
Metromedia, whose Web site is sputtering, also manages Bonanza, Ponderoza, and Steak and Ale, all of which appear to be dead. The eight local branches of Steak and Ale are not answering their phones or else have recordings announcing their closures.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Metromedia recently prepared a bankruptcy filing after violating terms of a loan it had with GE Capital Solutions.
A statement from S&A Restaurant Group, which oversees Steak & Ale, Bennigan's, and Tavern restaurants, says that "S&A Restaurant Corp. and certain affiliates have filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code. The companies that filed bankruptcy cases are popularly known as Steak & Ale, Bennigan's and Tavern restaurants. However, not all stores using these trade names have filed bankruptcy. For example, stores operated by franchisees are not named as debtors in these filings. ... The filing does not include Ponderosa and Bonanza which operate under Metromedia Steakhouses Company, L.P."
There are 20 branches in the Dallas area. An employee at a Plano Bennigan's said that the corporate stores were the ones that were closing and would be going through a two-week evaluation period to see whether franchisees would purchase them, and that most of the Bennigan's located along US 75 would likely be razed.
UPDATE: Statement from the franchise companies:
Bennigan's Franchising Company, L.P. and Steak & Ale Franchising Company, L.P., the owners of the Bennigan's and Steak & Ale trademarks and franchise agreements, were not part of the Chapter 7 filing made by its parent company, S&A Restaurant Corp. The 138 domestic and international franchisee-owned restaurants remain open and fully operational. Bennigan's Franchising Company, L.P. and Steak & Ale Franchising Company, L.P. will continue to provide high quality support services to its franchisees and remain focused on maintaining and maximizing the value of the franchise brands for its franchisees and their loyal customers.
UPDATE2: At least seven Bennigan's or Steak & Ale locations are on the market in Tampa, Fla., four of which will be auctioned off "as part of a nationwide sale next month", says the Tampa Tribune.
Posted by T.G.