Financing

The owner of Quiznos and Church's is apparently making a play for a bankrupt Hardee's franchisee

A company apparently controlled by High Bluff Capital, the investment firm that owns the restaurant chains, is the stalking horse bidder for half of the 108 restaurants operated by Summit Restaurant Holdings.
Hardee's bankruptcy
An affiliate of High Bluff Capital Partners is bidding on bankrupt Hardee's restaurants. / Photo: Shutterstock.

The same investment firm that operates Quiznos and Church’s Texas Chicken is making a play for some Hardee’s franchises being sold out of bankruptcy.

Arc Burger, a company that according to Delaware business filings was formed just two weeks ago, is the stalking horse bidder for Summit Restaurant Holdings, the 108-unit Hardee’s franchisee that filed for bankruptcy earlier this month. Summit is also known as Bighorn Restaurants, among other names.

But Arc only has an agreement to acquire 58 of those 108 restaurants, though it may buy 15 additional locations.

As the stalking horse bidder, Arc is making an initial bid for the restaurants as part of an auction process. Any buyer would have to outbid that $11.7 million, in addition to a termination fee that goes to Arc.

Arc appears to be a holding company formed by High Bluff Capital Partners, a private equity firm that acquired Quiznos and Taco Del Mar out of bankruptcy and also operates Church’s Chicken. The asset purchase agreement was signed by Coady Smith, who works with High Bluff. The website bankruptcompanynews.com first reported the connection between High Bluff and Arc Burger.

The restaurants Arc is bidding on are in Missouri, Montana, Kansas, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia.

Representatives from High Bluff Capital and Hardee’s parent company CKE Restaurants did not respond to requests for comment.

Summit operated 145 restaurants and closed 39 restaurants just before declaring bankruptcy and has started a sale process. The company had numerous underperforming restaurants and Hardee’s own average unit volumes have been stagnant dating back at least a decade, while food and labor cost inflation made matters worse.

The company has $22 million in secured debt and defaulted on its loans, prompting the bankruptcy filing and the sale process.

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