This Beloved Buffet Chain's Biggest Franchisee Just Declared Bankruptcy
One of the biggest names among all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants will soon be shutting down several locations in Florida and Georgia.
The largest operator of franchised Golden Corral restaurants has just filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. The 1069 Restaurant Group, which is owned by husband and wife duo Eric and Diane Holm, operates 33 locations of the popular buffet chain through subsidiaries in Florida and Georgia. The company has reported a debt of $49.7 million in their court filings, a downfall attributed to restaurant closures and a drop in sales during the pandemic. (Related: 9 Restaurant Chains That Closed Hundreds of Locations This Summer.)
Like many buffet-style restaurants, the 1069 Restaurant Group ended up closing all of their Golden Corral locations in March, and only 6 have been reopened since. However, according to Restaurant Business, the company is moving ahead with plans to reopen 18 more locations by the end of the year, despite the bankruptcy.
So how much will this bankruptcy actually affect Golden Corral's footprint in the two states? While some locations will most likely stay open, the company is going to be closing several locations in order to reduce their debt. A Golden Corral representative said in a statement to Restaurant Business that they are working with their largest franchisee through this bankruptcy and "anticipate they will continue to operate 24 of their 33 Golden Corral franchised locations in Georgia and Florida."
The 1069 Restaurant Group will use the bankruptcy filing to reconfigure their restaurants and hopefully find a solution for ongoing service restrictions. So far, the brand has experimented with no-touch buffets, where customers essentially use gloves or napkins when touching shared serving utensils. While some buffet restaurants have switched to cafeteria-style operations, the infrastructure of Golden Corral's buildings doesn't allow for this type of service.
Buffets have had a particularly difficult road through the pandemic, due to the fact that most states banned self-serve operations early on to try and stop the spread of coronavirus. During the height of the pandemic in the spring, beloved buffet chain Sweet Tomatoes (known as Souplantation in southern California) announced it was going out of business, while Jason's Deli, a chain that heavily relies on their self-serve salad bar, keeps closing more locations.
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