8 Restaurant Chain Bankruptcies That Shook the Industry in 2022
The restaurant business is a notoriously hard business in which to thrive long-term. Per USA Today, the average "lifespan" of a restaurant was just five years even before COVID-19 hit; the coronavirus pandemic only sped the closure or bankruptcies of thousands of chain and independently-owned restaurants across America.
Given how tough the industry is, it's always a disappointment but hardly a surprise when a restaurant fails. But that's talking about one-off locations—when an entire restaurant chain up and declares bankruptcy, that's something that reverberates chillingly through the entire restaurant business. And that's just what happened a shocking number of times in 2022.
Here are 8 restaurant chains that declared bankruptcy this year.
Once considered among the best in brick oven pizza, Bertucci's has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time in just four years now. The pizzeria brand has pointed to both the pandemic and recent inflation as the primary drivers of the bankruptcy filing.
According to this latest bankruptcy court filing, Bertucci's claims both the pandemic and inflation have contributed to decreasing sales and rising prices. The brick-oven pizza brand generated $97.9 million in sales last year, but still reported an operational loss tallying $14 million.
Happy Joe's Pizza
2022 was not such a happy year for Happy Joe's Pizza. The pizza chain, a favorite among many residents of the Midwest, filed for bankruptcy in the late summer of the year. But while a number of Happy Joe's restaurants did shut down, it's not the end of the line for the chain as a whole: many franchised locations remain in operation and the company's executives seemed committed to restructuring and returning to profitability.
According to Restaurant Business Online, it was hardly a surprise when GameWorks finally had to quit the restaurant business in 2022. After all, the arcade/billiards/bowling/dining destination had filed for bankruptcy protection twice in as many decades. But this year, its last six locations closed down and GameWorks is done for good this time.
The choice to file for bankruptcy and then fold completely was effectively out of the hands of the men and women running Ryan's. That's because, for a number of years, the chain had been operated by the holding company Fresh Acquisitions. And when Fresh Acquisitions went bankrupt in the spring of 2022, that sealed the fate of this beloved buffet chain.
Hale & Hearty
Once a popular and bustling New York City fast-casual go-to, known for its soups, salads, and sandwiches, Hale & Hearty abruptly closed all 16 of its locations in the summer of 2022. While signs in Hale & Hearty windows went up stating that the closures were temporary, it soon became clear that indeed the chain was done for. In fact, it faced multiple lawsuits for unpaid rent, unpaid worker's compensation funds, and unpaid vendor invoices.
It has been an odd on-again, off-again bankruptcy story for Cosi, according to Bloomberg Law. The struggling chain initially filed for bankruptcy in February 2020, only to withdraw its filing and instead seek pandemic aid from the government. Then, in the summer of 2022, the chain again sought to open a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.
Once a growing darling of the San Antonio, TX food scene, in the late summer of 2022, Hometown Burger shuttered all eight of its locations. Though launched just a few years back in 2016, already Hometown Burger had become a favorite with many San Antonians who sharply felt its sudden demise.
HoJo almost made it 100 years, but it just wasn't quite to be. Founded in 1927 and once ubiquitous across much of North America, in 2022 the last Howard Johnson restaurant closed down. The orange-roofed roadside restaurant once had well over 1,000 locations, but now it is officially defunct—note that its sister hotel/motel chain lives on, though.