Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., a formerly public company that runs 123 Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants, filed for bankruptcy protection, citing higher minimum wage and benefit costs.
The Chapter 11 reorganization will result in the closure of 20 to 30 restaurants and a possible sale of the business to second lien holders, according to the San Diego Tribune.
“Garden Fresh CEO John Morberg blamed the business’ overall cash-flow problems on declining sales, cost increases, higher minimum wage requirements, more expensive employee benefit plans and rent hikes,” the newspaper reported.
The company started in 1978 as a single Souplantation location in San Diego and later expanded throughout Southern California. Garden Fresh opened its first Sweet Tomatoes restaurant in Florida in 1990.
“Though currently a privately-held entity, Garden Fresh conducted an initial public offering in 1995 and exponentially grew its restaurant base before being taken private again in 2004,” the Tribune reported. “More recently, in 2012, Garden Fresh shook up its management team and replaced its then CEO and original founder, Michael Mack.”
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