(Adds company comment, details from court filings, case citation byline)
By Jonathan Stempel
Aug 5 (Reuters) - Perkins & Marie Callender’s Holding LLC, operator of two family and casual dining chains, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday and plans to sell most of its assets, after suffering from lower customer traffic and rising food and labor costs.
The Chapter 11 filing is the second in eight years for the Memphis-based company, which has nearly 400 stores under the Perkins and Marie Callender’s brands in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Its 2011 reorganization left it under the control of the investment firm Wayzata Investment Partners, still its majority owner. Thirty-two underperforming restaurants are being closed, but the company plans to operate normally while it restructures.
Many dining chains have struggled to fill seats because of heavy competition and a desire among many customers for newer, fresher food options.
Kona Grill, which specializes in American cuisine and sushi, filed for bankruptcy in April, while the parents of Bertucci’s pizza chain and the El Torito and Chevys Fresh Mex chains sought protection last year.
In a court filing, Chief Executive Jeffrey Warne said falling sales “across the family-dining and casual-dining industries” in 2017 and 2018, “elevated” commodity prices, rising minimum wages and “an increasingly tight labor market” were factors leading to the bankruptcy of Perkins & Marie Callender’s.
Warne said Perkins Group LLC will be a “stalking horse” bidder to buy Perkins assets and some of its Foxtail bakery assets at a court-supervised auction next month. He said talks are ongoing for Marie Callender’s and other Foxtail assets.
The company had no immediate additional comment.
Warne said that following the closures, the company will own or franchise 355 Perkins restaurants and 28 Marie Callender’s restaurants.
Perkins was founded in 1958, and Marie Callender’s in 1948. They merged in 2006, and recently had about 5,379 employees.
The case is In re Perkins & Marie Callender’s LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 19-11743. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York Editing by Nick Zieminski and Steve Orlofsky)