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Bertucci’s declares bankruptcy for a second time

The brick oven pizza chain, which also sought debt protection in 2018, blamed the pandemic and inflation for its problems.
Bertucci's bankruptcy
Bertucci's, the brick oven pizza chain, declared bankruptcy for a second time in four years. / Photograph: Shutterstock.

Bertucci’s, the 47-unit casual-dining pizza chain, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday, blaming the pandemic and inflation on its second such filing in four years.

The company had previously sought federal debt protection in 2018, when it was sold. In a court filing, however, the company said that the pandemic and inflation resulted in falling sales and rising expenses. The company generated $97.9 million in sales last year but reported an operating loss of $14 million, according to court documents.

Bertucci’s has nearly $21 million in secured debt to PHL Holdings, LLC. It also has another $26.5 million in unsecured debt and owes $1.5 million in state sales taxes, according to court documents.

The chain was founded in 1981 and is based in Northborough, Mass. It operates locations in nine states in the Northeast.

Bertucci’s shed dozens of locations during its previous stint in bankruptcy. The company once operated close to 100 locations but operated 56 locations when it was sold out of bankruptcy in 2018.

While sales rose 21% last year as the chain recovered from the pandemic, sales remain well below where they were in 2018, when system sales were $138.4 million, according to data from Restaurant Business sister company Technomic.

Bertucci’s is the second pizza chain in three months to seek debt protection, following the Happy Joe’s chain in September. Both companies cited the dual challenges of rising food and labor costs hurting margins after the pandemic weakened sales.

Yet bankruptcy filings have been relatively rare, in part because sales have remained healthy as operators raised prices. A steak chain owner filed for bankruptcy in March, for instance. But only three restaurant chains have needed to seek out debt protection.

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