Financing

Founder's untimely death leaves a Popeyes franchisee in bankruptcy

Premier Cajun Kings, which once operated 30 locations in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, struggled amid a difficult operating environment and declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, seeking a buyer.
Popeyes franchisee bankruptcy
Premier Cajun Kings, which now operates 19 units in Alabama, declared bankruptcy following its founder's death. / Photograph: Shutterstock.

Premier Cajun Kings, a 30-unit Popeyes franchisee based in Alabama, filed for bankruptcy this week after its founder’s untimely passing last year coupled with a brutal operating environment left the company in limbo.

Patrick Sidhu, a Burger King franchisee in Alabama, started acquiring Popeyes locations in 2018 and 2019 and his company generated more than $30 million in sales in 2020 and 2021, according to court documents filed this week.

But Sidhu died in May of last year. According to a court filing, he was its sole manager, running day-to-day operations. And his death “triggered great operational instability” for the company’s existing restaurants.

Meanwhile, soaring costs for food and labor, and a difficulty finding employees, made profitability difficult.

Low performance and operating losses led the company to close 10 restaurants in Alabama and Tennessee to stabilize the business. An 11th location was evicted by the landlord, leaving the company with 19 operating locations.

The efforts, however, were not enough to prevent insolvency and Premier Cajun Kings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week. The company has $8.2 million in secured debt.

Premier Cajun has plans to sell its restaurants out of bankruptcy and has an agreement with Popeyes that a buyer would enter into a new franchise agreement with the company.

This is the fifth bankruptcy filing of note of a restaurant company over the past three months, following filings of Bertucci’s, Corner Bakery and two franchisees of Popeyes sister company Burger King. Rising costs for food and labor, as well as utilities and construction and equipment, have eaten into profit margins at most restaurant companies. The result has led to a spike in bankruptcy filings this year.

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