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Restaurant group's bankruptcy could lead to closure of Missouri locations

The company has cited both economic hardship prior to the coronavirus as well as the outbreak in leading to the filing
Credit: SLBJ

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando, Florida-based parent company of restaurant chains Brio Italian Mediterranean and Bravo Fresh Italian has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

FoodFirst Global Restaurants Inc. filed on April 10 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Middle District of Florida, according to court documents. The company has cited both economic hardship prior to the coronavirus as well as the outbreak in leading to the filing.

The company operates Brio locations at Plaza Frontenac in St. Louis and Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, where Bravo has a location at the Zona Rosa center. The Brio in Plaza Frontenac is one of only 21 Brio and Bravo locations currently open for carryout and curbside pickup.

The company's debts include $6 million to City National Bank, $21 million to Garrison Loan Agency Services, a combined state tax obligation for 11 states totaling about $2.23 million and $10 million to non-disputed and non-insider unsecured creditors. Its assets total about $3.76 million in book value, as the company is uncertain of the market value of the product during the pandemic.

FoodFirst was formed in May 2018 by Brad Blum, a former president of Orlando-based Darden Restaurants Inc.'s (NYSE: DRI) Olive Garden chain, and acquired Brio and Bravo for $100 million on May 24. When they were acquired, Brio and Bravo operated 110 locations in 32 states with reported sales of $400 million for 2017. 

As sales began to plummet, the chains made changes to their menus and FoodFirst moved its headquarters to Orlando to take advantage of the "thriving economy, a culture of innovation, the diverse community, and substantial international tourism." Those changes did not raise sales, the documents said. 

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