Minnesota Company Acquires Assets of Bankrupt San Antonio Buffet Restaurant Chains

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A Minnesota restaurant business received bankruptcy court approval Thursday to purchase the assets of a San Antonio-based operator of various now-closed buffet chains.

BBQ Holdings Inc. of Minnetonka, Minn., Was the successful bidder for substantially all of the assets of Fresh Acquisitions in a transaction valued at approximately $ 4.7 million. An auction took place on October 1.

The main assets are five Tahoe Joe’s Famous Steakhouse restaurants operating in California.

BBQ Holdings also acquires the intellectual property of the shuttered buffet chains – which include HomeTown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Ryan’s and Furr’s Fresh Buffet. BBQ Holdings, however, said in a statement that it has no plans to reopen the buffet brands anytime soon.

BBQ Holdings had six restaurant brands with 299 locations in three countries at the end of August. They include Famous Dave’s, Granite City Food and Brewery, Village Inn, and Bakers Square. The famous Dave’s has a restaurant at 231 SW Loop 410 in San Antonio.

Listed company BBQ Holdings outbid San Francisco-based Serene Investment Management, which submitted an initial bid – or “stalking-horse bid” – of $ 4.2 million, according to court documents.

BBQ Holdings’ offering of approximately $ 4.7 million includes $ 4.2 million in cash and the assumption of certain liabilities.

The transaction is expected to close on Friday.

Fresh Acquisitions closed several of its restaurants amid the coronavirus pandemic and filed 15 bankruptcy applications in April in Dallas.

His businesses have been unable to overcome shelter-in-place orders and restrictions that limited foodservice operations to take-out and delivery. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had advised restaurants not to offer self-service food and drink options, such as buffets.

Before the pandemic, companies operated 90 sites in 27 states. However, none of the restaurants were in San Antonio.

The April bankruptcies marked the fourth bankruptcy filing since 2008 for some of the companies, with the last filing in 2016 in San Antonio. Before the 2016 bankruptcies, there were more than 300 restaurants in 35 states.

Immediately after the latest bankruptcy filings, an attorney for the bankrupt companies said there was “a hope and expectation” that they would come out of Chapter 11 with the possibility of “pushing back brands to some extent.”

In August, U.S. bankruptcy judge Stacey Jernigan dismissed a petition to approve the sale of the assets to VitaNova Brands of San Antonio, which had managed the chains and provided back office services.

VitaNova is managed by Lawrence F. Harris, Allen J. Jones and Jason R. Kemp. They are also “leaders” of the bankrupt chains.

Assets purchased by BBQ Holdings exclude causes of action in bankruptcy against officers, managers or directors of debtors.

“It’s been up for auction for a long time and I know the business is strapped for cash so there is a need to close (a sale) as soon as possible,” Jernigan said approving the sale.

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