The quick-service soup chain spawned by an episode of the hit show “Seinfeld” has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The parent company of the Original Soupman sought protection from creditors about three weeks after former CFO Robert Bertrand was arrested by federal authorities for tax evasion. The charges allege that Bertrand evaded payments running into hundreds of thousands of dollars by paying employees off the books.
The legal difficulties and unspecified “legacy liabilities” necessitated the petition for bankruptcy protection, said Michael Wyse, who was named chief restructuring officer and interim CFO to help right the company.
The Original Soupman’s website lists seven soup outlets operating under that name as of the filing. Parent company Soupman Inc. also markets packaged soups under the Original Soupman name in retail outlets.
The concept drew a bright spotlight when the strict customer rules set by founder Al Yeganeh for his first store, on the West Side of Manhattan, were lampooned by “Seinfeld,” one of the nation’s top-rated TV shows at the time. Yeganeh’s character on the show was nicknamed the Soup Nazi because he demanded unstinting observance of certain rules, such as not saying anything unnecessary to the staff.
A violation could get a custom banished from the store with the cry, “No soup for you!” The send-off became a popular buzz phrase.