The two operators of about a dozen well-known Kansas City restaurants sought bankruptcy protection within days of one another, with both saying the restaurants will remain open for business.
On Saturday, Bread & Butter Concepts LLC, which owns and operates Gram & Dun on the Country Club Plaza, Urban Table in Prairie Village and the Stock Hill steak restaurant just south of the Plaza, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Kansas. And on Thursday, HRI Holding Corp., which owns Leawood-based Houlihan’s Restaurants Inc., a casual dining chain, filed for Chapter 11 in Delaware.
Houlihan’s operates 47 restaurants, including Houlihan’s, J. Gilbert’s and Bristol Seafood Grill, in Kansas, Missouri and 12 other states. The company was founded in 1992 and is owned by affiliates of York Capital Management, an investment management company that bought Houlihan’s about three years ago.
Houlihan’s plans to sell its assets to Landry’s LLC, a Houston-based restaurant group, for $40 million, according to its bankruptcy filing. Landry’s made a “stalking horse” bid for Houlihan’s, establishing a floor for other offers that might emerge.
In a court filing, Houlihan’s chief restructuring officer, Matthew Manning, attributed the filing to “various industry headwinds," including senior management changes, expensive leases and a tight labor market.
Coincidentally, the founder and CEO of Bread & Butter Concepts, Alan L. Gaylin, is a former Houlihan’s executive. The two bankruptcy filings were unrelated, although the same industry headwinds may have been a factor in Bread & Butter’s filing.
Bread & Butter ran into lease problems recently with The Oliver, another restaurant it operated on the Plaza. After negotiations for a new lease with the Plaza’s owner fell apart, the restaurant closed earlier this year.
The company’s bankruptcy attorney, Sharon Stolte, said Bread & Butter’s current restaurants, along with its separate catering service, event venue and Happy Belly Food Truck, will remain open while Bread & Butter seeks to restructure its debts.
“Our plans are to reorganize and to do it as quickly as possible,” she said.
Bread & Butter got its start nearly a decade ago when it opened BRGR Kitchen + Bar in Prairie Village. It recently sold its various BRGR restaurants, as well as its Taco Republic restaurant, to the parent company of Louie’s Wine Dive.
In a declaration filed with the bankruptcy court, Gaylin said two of his business partners, both Texas residents, suffered financial reverses in the oil industry and were no longer able to fund Bread & Butter’s losses or underwrite its losses.
Bread & Butter listed about $4.1 million in assets and $5.1 million in liabilities.
In a statement, the company said, “We have every intention of coming out on the other side a much stronger company, and one that will be in Kansas City for another ten years and beyond. We will continue to operate as usual with no interruptions to our service, or our continuing commitment to our customers.”
Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.