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Famous Dave’s parent wins the auction to buy buffet chains

BBQ Holdings won the bidding for the bankrupt owner of the six-unit Tahoe Joe’s along with the assets of several buffet chains, including Old Country Buffet.
Old Country Buffet bankruptcy
Photograph: Shutterstock

BBQ Holdings is adding a bunch of new chains to its menu.

The acquisitive owner of Famous Dave’s, Granite City and Village Inn, among others, has won the bankruptcy auction for Fresh Acquisitions, also known as Buffets LLC, the owner of the six-unit Tahoe Joe’s steakhouse chain, for $5.2 million, according to court filings. 

But BBQ will also require the intellectual property for several buffet chains that are no longer operating, including Old Country Buffet, HomeTown Buffet, Ryans and several others.

BBQ Holdings is paying $4.2 million for the chain plus $1 million in assumed liabilities. The company outbid the stalking horse bidder, Serene Investment Management, an investment firm that had bid $4.2 million and had the inside track at taking over the company.

The court has yet to approve the deal. But the company was put up for sale again after a court denied a previous sale of the company to VitaNova Brands for a $3.2 million credit bid. Some creditors for the buffet concepts had criticized the deal over relationships between VitaNova and Fresh Acquisitions and pre-bankruptcy payments, among other things.

Serene was picked as Fresh Acquisitions’ new stalking horse last month and the auction was put on the fast track.

It’s uncertain what the deal could mean for some of the shuttered buffet chains. Fresh Acquisitions is a compilation of several different concepts that at one point had been a 650-unit buffet empire in 2006. The company has filed bankruptcy several times under its previous owner, FMP Management, and folded in other companies in the process—notably Furr’s, which FMP bought out of bankruptcy in 2015.

Fresh Acquisitions declared bankruptcy in April, down to 6 open units, all Tahoe Joe’s, along with a plan to expand a redesigned Furr’s concept.

BBQ Holdings, however, has been on a buying binge. The company acquired Granite City Food & Brewery out of bankruptcy before the pandemic and over the summer spent $13.5 million to buy the family dining chains Village Inn and Bakers Square.

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