Fast-casual sandwich chain Taylor Gourmet, which closed nearly all its units and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection last fall, appears to be back from the dead.
Washington, D.C.-based developer—and longtime customer of the chain—Steve Kalifa acquired Taylor Gourmet’s name, recipes and other assets for $260,000 in an auction in March, according to court documents.
Kalifa, who ran several KFC, Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen and Pizza Hut units in California a decade ago, told Restaurant Business that his Source Cuisine company has raised nearly $3 million in private-equity capital and plans to open five Taylor Gourmet stores in Washington, D.C., this year.
“I can tell you, looking at the numbers, I don’t think the numbers were an issue,” Kalifa said. “It was healthy, from every number we saw from the bankruptcy. … Personality-wise, management-wise, that’s a different story. But the numbers looked good. It wasn’t McDonald’s, but it was decent.”
Kalifa declined to speculate further on what might have caused the chain’s downfall.
He said he used to dine at Taylor Gourmet at least once a week and was shocked when the chain shuttered its 19 units. Just one Taylor Gourmet store, a licensed unit at Reagan National Airport, remained open after the bankruptcy filing, and Kalifa is now in charge of that store’s management as well.
Taylor Gourmet’s menu will remain largely the same, though Kalifa said he would like to add health-focused sandwiches and salads to the lineup. He’s also exploring the addition of breakfast service.
He said he currently has no plans to expand outside of Washington or to ever return to the number of units Taylor Gourmet had when it shut down.
To acquire Taylor Gourmet, Kalifa won a bidding war that included Boston-based bakery-cafe chain Cosi as well as Taylor Gourmet’s founder and former CEO Casey Patten.
Patten, for his part, is getting back into the restaurant game. He’s opening a sandwich and salad restaurant called Grazie Grazie in a shuttered Taylor Gourmet location in Washington, according to local media reports.