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Bennigan's is Gone

With absolutely no warning, Bennigan's shut the doors on all its company-owned restaurants today (about half the chain) and its parent company (which also operates the Steak & Ale chain) has filed for bankruptcy. This was so sudden that reportedly people were showing up to the restaurants this morning for breakfast only to be greeted with the news that the chain was suddenly defunct. Its franchises, for now, are continuing to operate. The company has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which means its moving to liquidate, not to restructure.

Here's a report from CBS News in Chicago. There's also a report in the Wall Street Journal that Outback Steakhouse and Ruby Tuesday are in trouble.

Customers showing up for lunch at Bennigan's restaurants in Chicago and across the country found quite a surprise Tuesday morning, when all the corporate-owned locations had signs on display reading "closed for business."

As CBS 2's Joanie Lum reports, Bennigan's Grill and Tavern closed all of its corporate-owned locations nationwide after filing for bankruptcy. Independent franchises remain open for business as usual.

...

Miller said a Chapter 7 filing usually means a company has "major league debt," and it is unlikely that employees would get their last paycheck. He said someone could conceivably buy the assets and reopen the full Bennigan's chain, but that would only be after a long, drawn out court process.

The bankruptcy filing does not affect other two restaurant chains owned by Metromedia, Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouse, Templeton said in the statement.

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