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Joe’s Crab Shack, Brick House look for a buyer

Parent Ignite Restaurant Group names Jonathan Tibus as CEO

Ignite Restaurant Group Inc., parent to the Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap chains, has named a new CEO as it looks for a buyer or bankruptcy protection, the company said Monday.

The Houston-based casual-dining operator said it had hired financial advisor Piper Jaffray to pursue a sale of the business, which “could be sold as an entirety or through the separate sales of its two restaurant brands.”

A filing for bankruptcy protection remains an option, the company said in a 10K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“We may be required to file for protection in bankruptcy, even if we are successful in effecting a sale of our business or improving our capital structure,” the filing noted. “Any bankruptcy proceeding may result in the holders of our common stock receiving no proceeds.”

Ignite’s stock was delisted from the Nasdaq exchange on March 14.

Ignite also named Jonathan Tibus as CEO. He was most recently CEO of Last Call Operating Co. and its Champps, Bailey’s and Fox & Hound brands

Tibus succeeds Robert S. Merritt, who had served on the company’s board since March 2014, and as its CEO since November 2015. Merritt resigned from those positions, but will continue to serve as a consultant, the company said. 

Last Call filed for bankruptcy in 2016, and was sold to Fun Eats and Drinks LLC, a company formed by San Diego-based private-equity firm Kelly Investment Group, in an auction last September. 

Previously, Tibus also served as chief restructuring officer for Denver-based Quiznos and as chief operating officer at Columbus, Ohio-based Max & Erma’s.

Paul R. Vigano, chairman of Ignite’s board, said in a statement, "We would like to thank Bob for his contributions to Ignite and for him agreeing to continue on in a consulting capacity to ensure a smooth transition.” 

Vigano said Tibus’ background was what the company needed.

“We believe Jon Tibus and the rest of the management team are the right people to lead the company through our ongoing review of strategic alternatives,” he said.

Ignite’s board also elected Brad Leist, the company’s senior vice president and chief financial officer, to the additional position of chief administrative officer, and promoted Steve Metzger, the company’s general counsel, to senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of the company.

Ellen Clarry will continue as a member of the senior executive team in her role as chief supply officer.

Ignite has 114 Joe’s Crab Shack restaurants in 31 states, and 25 Brick House units in 11 states.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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