Brown’s Chicken & Pasta Inc. a chain of chicken restaurants that made national headlines in 1993 when seven employees at one of its stores were murdered has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The bankruptcy filing came two months after a judge ordered the restaurant chain to pay more than $800,000 to a former vice president and minority shareholder who’d filed a wrongful termination lawsuit. Brown’s Chicken said they were unable to pay the judgment and were forced into bankruptcy.
In its petition for bankruptcy, the Elmhurst-based company said that while it had assets between $100,000 and $500,000, it also had 50 to 99 creditors and liabilities of as much as $10 million.
The filing is the latest in a series of setbacks for Brown’s. Once boasting as many as 150 stores, Brown’s has seen that number dwindle to about three dozen since seven employees at one of its restaurants in Palatine were murdered in 1993. Their bodies were found in a walk-in cooler.
Brown’s Chicken plans to continue business operations as usual and hopes that the Chapter 11 bankruptcy will give it just the fresh start it needs to turn business around for the better. While it plans to keep its franchises it will close down three company operated restaurants in the next 30 days in an effort to save cash and streamline operations. It is not clear whether the company has negotiated a prepackaged bankruptcy with lenders to keep the bankruptcy process quick and relatively painless. But if they are unable to quickly put all or most of their creditors on the “same page” their bankruptcy could drag on for longer than desired.