Atalaya Capital Management, a private-equity fund, has acquired the franchise system of Bennigan's and Steak & Ale Restaurants out of a liquidation bankruptcy in Plano, Texas. The price: $1-million in cash plus the forgiveness of $12-million in secured debt, according to court records. Atalaya plans to revive Bennigan's, which still has 81 operating franchise stores, including one in Tampa, and keep Steak & Ale brand defunct, said Doug Benham, an Atlanta consultant helping oversee the venture for Atalaya. The plan is to reopen as franchised stores several of the 127 company-owned locations that closed unceremoniously on July 29. Leases for the closed stores, however, were not part of the deal and remain tied up in court. Longer term, the plan is to shrink the menu to the old favorites and simpler-to-make pub food. "We think Bennigan's is still a strong brand," Benham said. Meanwhile, Bennigan's former owner, billionaire John Kluge's Metromedia Steakhouse Group, which owns the Ponderosa and Bonanza steak house chains, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. There are five Ponderosa outlets in the Tampa Bay area.
Buyer for Bennigan's; bankruptcy for Ponderosa
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