This Beloved Pizza Buffet Chain Just Declared Bankruptcy
Plano, Texas–based buffet pizza chain Cici's is going bankrupt. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday with a pre-approved sales deal which will see the chain bought by its primary lender, B&G Investors.
Just a decade ago, Cici's operated more than 650 locations and had ambitious plans to open another 500 restaurants in the following decade. Instead, its footprint dwindled down to just over 300 locations, which is what the chain currently operates along with its franchises across 26 states. (Related: The Saddest Restaurant Closures In Your State.)
The buffet restaurant, which is home to bottomless pizza, pasta, salad, and dessert, had slowly been squeezed out by larger competitors which were better prepared to meet the demand for digital ordering, delivery, and takeout services, according to the court filing.
Once the pandemic hit, buffet-type restaurants proved to be particularly vulnerable due to the open nature of their food displays and self-serve lines which don't allow for proper social distancing, adding to the company's declining sales. The mandated dining room closures “significantly disrupted Cici’s restaurant operations and severely limited customer demand,” as the vast majority of the chain's pre-pandemic sales came from their dine-in operations.
B&G Investors is acquiring Cici's alongside its $82 million debt, and will provide the chain the necessary financing to see it through the bankruptcy process, which is supposed to be completed by March. The company itself owns 11 restaurant while the rest are owned and operated by franchises, which are not part of the bankruptcy filing.
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