Fresh Acquisitions, the parent company of a restaurant chain that owns several buffet-style concepts, including Old Country Buffet, filed for bankruptcy.
The Chapter 11 filing more than a year into the pandemic illustrates the struggles the industry faces, particularly ones that are reliant on buffets. Furr’s Fresh Buffet, Ryan’s, Old Country Buffet, Tahoe Joes Famous Steakhouse, and Hometown Buffet are all owned by Fresh Acquisitions.
Bankruptcy will help “strengthen their operations and recapitalize their businesses,” the company said in a statement. It is getting additional liquidity from VitaNova Brands, a Texas-based restaurant chain.
“As with almost every one of our peers, buffet restaurants took the brunt of the loss of sales during the pandemic and as such, the path to success requires hard choices to be made, including the rationalization of our overall footprint,” said Jason Kemp, CEO of VitaNova Brands, in the release.
He blamed occupancy restrictions and the ban of buffet-style restaurants for a “precipitous decline in sales.”
Prior to the pandemic, Fresh Acquisitions had about 100 locations across the United States of all of its brands. However, the company was all but wiped out with just six Tahoe Joe’s steakhouses remaining open in California.
The company will operate normally during the Chapter 11 process and it believes that a “number of the brands – including Furr’s Buffet and Tahoe Joe’s – can take advantage of the expected post-Covid recovery.”
Covid-19 has damaged the restaurant industry, specifically decimating the buffet chains.
Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes announced last May it was immediately closing all 97 of its locations. Cici’s Pizza, which also had buffets, filed for Chapter 11 in January 2021. More recently, the largest franchisees of Golden Corral filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy following the closure of more than half of its restaurants.