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Bidders line up for the Taylor Gourmet name

Cosi and the company’s founder are trying to buy the closed chain’s trademarks.
Taylor-gourmet
Photograph Courtesy of Taylor Gourmet

Taylor Gourmet isn’t quite dead yet.

The fast-casual sandwich chain closed just about all of its restaurants in September and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection—meaning the company would be liquidated.

But bidders have since emerged for the brand name and trademarks. That includes Casey Patten, the chain’s founder and former CEO, who bid $35,000 for the right to the Taylor Gourmet name and logo, according to court documents.

But Patten would soon get competition in the form of another sandwich chain—Cosi, the 72-unit Boston-based bakery-cafe chain that bid $50,000 for the trademarks. A third bid, for $38,000, came from a company called Source Cuisine.

Exactly what the bidders would do with the name, if anything, is uncertain. And it’s not as if the Taylor Gourmet name is completely dead—there remains a single location in Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va., where the operator has filed court documents seeking to protect its own use of the name.

But the fact that three bidders have emerged to potentially buy the brand means that Taylor Gourmet in some fashion could potentially re-emerge as a chain down the road. It’s also possible, as the Washington Business Journal noted, that Cosi could simply want to buy the trademarks to kill them and keep a competitor out of the market.

Cosi itself is an interesting bidder for the trademarks. The company was once a publicly traded, fast-casual growth chain. But years of financial losses and management changes ultimately led to its decline and a bankruptcy filing in 2016.

The company emerged from that bankruptcy in 2017, owned by a coalition of investment firms.

Taylor Gourmet was a hot, Washington D.C.-based brand that in 2015 received an investment from private-equity firm KarpReilly, helping it grow to 19 locations, including two in Chicago.

But the company generated a social media firestorm when Patten attended a White House ceremony on small business and met with President Donald Trump.

Reports indicated the chain was struggling this year. But KarpReilly somewhat surprisingly opted to pull funding from the company in September, leading the chain to shut its doors.

The bankruptcy filing came shortly thereafter.

The complete closure of the chain was relatively unusual. Brands typically hold value, and they have the most value when they are still operational, when buyers usually take a chance on turning them around. Any buyer of Taylor Gourmet would therefore have to restart the chain.

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