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Souplantation, Sweet Tomatoes owner files for bankruptcy

Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. is ninth operator since November 2015 to declare bankruptcy

Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., the owner of Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, filed for bankruptcy on Monday. The company said it plans to close locations and put itself up for sale.

The San Diego-based company, owned by the private-equity group Sun Capital Partners Inc., reported between $1 million and $10 million in assets, and between $1 million and $10 million in liabilities.

Garden Fresh plans to close 20 to 30 underperforming locations. The company has 124 units, primarily on the West Coast and in the Southwest. The brands are known as Souplantation in Southern California and Sweet Tomatoes elsewhere.

Garden Fresh said it has a deal with lenders to restructure its debt.

“Garden Fresh will operate our business as usual, and we remain focused on providing fresh, wholesome food and great service to our guests,” John Morberg, Garden Fresh CEO, said in a statement. “By improving our capital structure through this restructuring, we’ll be able to accelerate the changes underway to refresh our restaurants and build a strong future.”

Sales at the company have declined in recent years. System sales at Sweet Tomatoes declined to $187.2 million in its most recent fiscal year, from $192.1 million two years earlier, according to Nation’s Restaurant News Top 100 data.

The bankruptcy filing comes amid a broad decline in same-store sales at many restaurant chains, which has taken a toll on the industry. Garden Fresh is the ninth restaurant operator to file for federal debt protection since November 2015. It follows a bankruptcy filing by fast-casual operator Così  Inc. last week.

Other companies that have filed for bankruptcy include Buffets LLC, the parent to Old Country Buffet and HomeTown Buffet; Fired Up Inc., the parent to Johnny Carino’s; Logan’s Roadhouse Inc.; and Last Call Guarantor LLC, the parent to Fox & Hound and Champps.

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

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