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A Regional Chain Known For Its Thick Burgers Is Filing For Bankruptcy

The burger chain joins a growing list of restaurant bankruptcies in 2024.

A growing number of restaurant chains have been struggling in 2024 with dropping sales, restaurant closures, and declining customer traffic, forcing some to resort to bankruptcy in the hopes of staying afloat. Now, a struggling burger chain based in the Midwest is the latest to face bankruptcy this year in a bid to revive its business.

The parent company of Kuma's Corner—known for serving up thick, over-the-top burgers and draft beer in a rock and roll-themed setting—officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month. President and Director of Operations Ron Cain told Eater Chicago that the company struggled because of COVID-19 policies, which set strict rules for restaurant operations as authorities looked to curb the spread of the virus.

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Kuma's Corner exterior
Joseph Hendrickson / Shutterstock

Indoor dining and capacity restrictions, for example, were implemented across the country. Kuma's also temporarily closed all of its restaurants in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in lost business. Kuma's ended up permanently closing a Denver location and a Vernon Hills, Ill., location in 2022, Eater Chicago reported.

On top of the COVID restrictions, the fast-growing popularity of smash burgers probably hasn't helped Kuma's financial situation. While smash burgers are known for having thin, caramelized patties, the burgers at Kuma's Corner are big and loaded with messy, bold toppings. Look no further than the "Sourvein" burger topped with blackened chicken tenders, applewood-smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, Belgian waffle strips, raspberry aioli, and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Kuma's Corner Sourvein Burger on wooden plank
Kuma's Corner

Other prime examples include the prime rib-topped "Tribute" burger and a "Plague Bringer" festooned with crushed garlic, housemade hot sauce, pepperjack cheese, jalapeños, tortilla strips, and roasted garlic mayo.

Luckily for Kuma's Corner fans, the chain will remain open throughout the bankruptcy process for parent company Kuma's Holdings. It currently has four restaurants left in operation, with two located in Chicago, one in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, and one in Indianapolis. Cain also told Eater that each restaurant represents a separate legal entity, and they're not part of the holdings company or bankruptcy filing.

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"We are not going anywhere," he said.

Kuma's Holdings is only the latest restaurant company to contend with bankruptcy this year. Earlier this month, the fast-casual Mexican chain Rubio's Coastal Grill filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy shortly after it abruptly closed 48 underperforming restaurants in California. Other eateries that have filed for bankruptcy in 2024 include Red Lobster, Florida's legendary Brocato's Sandwich Shop, and the Tex-Mex chain Tijuana Flats.

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe