Garden Fresh Restaurants, LLC (Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes) is liquidating all assets under their Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filing. The chain, which employed thousands, was a popular place to dine with self-service food bars, was not able to survive the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and permanently closed all 97 restaurants and 3 distribution centers in early May. It is, to-date, the largest restaurant bankruptcy and liquidation as a result of the pandemic.
The equipment and contents are being auctioned online from until June 30, 2020 in locations nationally at www.RestaurantEquipment.Bid.
The Garden Fresh bankruptcy and resulting liquidation is an important story about the challenges facing the restaurant industry as a result of the pandemic. According to the National Restaurant Association, the industry lost over $225 Billion in revenue putting over 8 million people out of work and resulting in the temporary or permanent closing of over 150,000 locations.
Neal Sherman, President of TAGeX Brands (which operates RestaurantEquipment.Bid), an expert in restaurant closures, equipment and liquidation says, “Garden Fresh’s bankruptcy is an early sign of the challenges to come for the restaurant industry in the wake of COVID-19. Our aim with online auctions is to ensure that quality items don’t end up in a landfill – but instead allows for sustainable repurposing that not only makes economic sense but will provide a positive outcome for surviving restaurant operators who can benefit from this liquidation.”
Leslie Gladstone, Trustee of the Bankruptcy who also serves as an officer of the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees, says of the liquidation, “It is our first and foremost mission with this liquidation to get some return for the creditors of this chain. We also intend to provide a sustainable re-use of the equipment that will make a difference for other restaurants who have been incredibly challenged as a result of the pandemic.”
RestaurantEquipment.Bid is a marketplace for furniture, fixtures, small wares and supplies for restaurants. The company, part of TAGeXBrands, began to relieve restaurant headaches for closures and asset liquidation in the food service industry.
About Garden Fresh Restaurants
Founded in 1978 and headquartered in San Diego, CA, Garden Fresh owns of 123 Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants across 15 states. Garden Fresh has 5,500 employees, approximately 5,000 of whom are employed on an hourly basis.
Garden Fresh Restaurant Intermediate Holding, LLC, and its affiliates filed Chapter 11 petitions (Bankr. D. Del. Case Nos. 16-12174 to 16-12178) on Oct. 3, 2016. In the bankruptcy case, the Debtors hired Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP as general counsel; Young, Conaway, Stargatt & Taylor, LLP as local counsel; Piper Jaffray Companies as financial advisor; and Epiq Bankruptcy Solutions, LLC as claims and noticing agent.
Garden Fresh Restaurants LLC filed a petition for Chapter 7 liquidation (Bankr. S..D. Cal. Case No. 20-02477) on May 14, 2020. The company reported assets between $50 million and $100 million and liabilities of similar range. The Hon. Louise Decarl Adler is the presiding judge.
The Debtor’s counsel in the Chapter 7 case:
Gary B. Rudolph
Sullivan Hill Rez & Engel, Aplc