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Matchbox-Bankruptcy-Exterior-Dallas.jpg Ron Ruggless
Matchbox Food Group LLC entities file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Matchbox Food Group files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Casual-dining brand cites coronavirus pandemic in restructuring effort; investor Thompson Hospitality proposes purchase of chain

Matchbox Food Group LLC entities on Monday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the need to “rationalize its store footprint,” the company said.

The 12-unit Washington, D.C.-based casual-dining brand said Reston, Va.-based Thompson Hospitality, which in 2018 invested $11 million in Matchbox for an unexercised purchase option, has proposed buying the chain. Matchbox filed Chapter 11 petitions in several U.S. bankruptcy court in states where it operates, a spokesperson said.

Thompson launched in 1992 with facilities management and campus dining and now owns such restaurant concepts as Yot Bar & Kitchen, The Rub Chicken & Beer, Hen Quarter, The Delegate, Big Buns burger brand, American Tap Room and Austin Grill.

“For the last two years, Thompson Hospitality has joined forces with Matchbox to manage our restaurants and develop new ones,” said Edwin Sheridan IV, a Matchbox Food Group board member, in a statement. “They are now proposing to take a larger role, proposing a purchase of the chain, subject to court approval. The Matchbox brand now has a clear path forward that enables us to be flexible in any environment. We are confident that we will emerge stronger.”

Matchbox said it intends to use the reorganization process to “deleverage its balance sheet and rationalize its store footprint.”

“Restructuring will allow us to right-size our balance sheet and position the business for growth going forward,” Sheridan said.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the restaurant industry has been swift and damaging,” he added. “The Chapter 11 process will enable us to emerge as a stronger company, and to continue to serve as good partners with our team members, vendors, landlords and our loyal guests.”

Sheridan noted that landlords have been flexible. “We aim to work with the landlords for each of our locations to find agreeable terms that will allow us to keep our restaurants open — and continuing serving our customers,” he said. “If that is not possible, we will be forced to close locations.”

Matchbox, founded in 2003, has restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area as well as in Florida, Maryland, Texas and Virginia.

In 2017, a year before the Thompson Hospitality investment, Matchbox sold off its then-five-unit Ted’s Bulletin concept to entrepreneur Steve Salis, a founder of &Pizza and owner of Kramerbooks and the Federalist Pig.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

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