Boll Weevil closes stores after Ch. 7 filing

SAN DIEGO The ownership rights to the 42-year-old, family-owned Boll Weevil restaurant chain are unclear as the parent company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation earlier this month and shuttered all six corporate locations in Southern California last week.

Four restaurants operated by the independent licensees of the landmark burger brand remain open in the Southern California cities of Kearny Mesa, Lemon Grove, Imperial Beach and Ramona, and said they are not impacted by the liquidation. Licensee Jim Mann, owner of the Ramona location, said the rights to the Boll Weevil name will be handled by the court-appointed trustee in the case.

The corporate closures reportedly have left about 60 to 70 employees without jobs and owed back pay. According to the San Diego Union Tribune, Boll Weevil filed $1.1 million in assets and $2.7 million in liabilities. The shuttered locations were in the Southern California communities of La Mesa, Lakeside, San Marcos, Mira Mesa, Bonita and Shelter Island.

Known for build-your-own burgers, fries and beer, the Boll Weevil concept was founded by Fred Halleman in 1966 as an offshoot of his then-popular steak restaurant, The Cotton Patch, in San Diego. Halleman opened the first Boll Weevil — named for the pest that feeds off cotton fields — next to his landmark restaurant and made the hamburgers from the The Cotton Patch’s steak trimmings. While The Cotton Patch later closed, the more-casual Boll Weevil took off.

When Halleman died in 1984, his daughter Brenda Halleman Richardson took over the business, later franchising the concept. The chain grew to about 37 units at one point. Over the years, however, the number of units began to dwindle.

Boll Weevil Inc. filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy twice, first in 1996 and again in the summer of this year. The most recent reorganization effort was converted to Chapter 7 on Dec. 4, and the six corporate locations were closed Dec. 9, according to the existing licensees.