Make us your home page

Waffle House franchisee files for bankruptcy

TAMPA — The franchisee that owns all 90 Waffle House restaurants in Central Florida has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy largely to stop the parent company from kicking it out of the 1,600-store system.

Brandon-based Northlake Foods Inc., which is controlled by W.B. Johnson, an Atlanta entrepreneur who once owned five Tampa Bay-area Holiday Inns and the Ritz Carlton Hotel chain, filed for the bankruptcy court protection in September.

By then Johnson, who once lived in Clearwater Beach, and his partners within the franchisee group had been fighting with each other in court for more than a year. Some of them stripped the company of enough assets that Northlake became technically insolvent, some creditors claim.

Since the filing, the franchisees have been closing stores. So far the 146 they owned in Florida, Georgia and Virginia have dwindled to 125.

Waffle House Inc., the Norcross, Ga., parent company that owns the chain and the rest of the Florida Waffle Houses from Tallahassee across the Panhandle, argues that Northlake's franchised stores, which generate about $80-million in annual revenue, would be profitable had it not been for the way Johnson and his partners split up their personal ownership of assets to settle their own differences from Northlake.

So far, much of the case revolved around ensuring the court gets a firm handle on what essentially has been run as a cash business. Founded in 1955 in Avondale Estates, Ga., the original Toddle House changed its name to the Waffle House in 1961. The chain did not accept credit cards until 2006.

Judge Carlyn Delano last week took the unusual step of appointing an outside examiner to investigate the 2007 split­up of Johnson and some of his partners.

Mark Albright can be reached at or (727) 893-8252.

Waffle House franchisee files for bankruptcy 11/25/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 10:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Walmart expands grocery delivery service to Tampa


    TAMPA — Walmart is expanding its grocery delivery service to Tampa, the company announced Monday. Five locations will offer delivery for online grocery orders.

    Walmart is expanding its grocery delivery to Tampa, the company announced Monday. | [Times file photo]
  2. Marina at Hudson Beach poised to become 24-unit condominium-hotel


    HUDSON — One of the mainstay businesses at Hudson Beach is poised for redevelopment into a 24-unit condominium-hotel.

    The owners of Skeleton Key Marina in Hudson have filed preliminary plans with Pasco County to redevelop the site into a 24-unit condominium-hotel.
  3. Have your say Tampa Bay on the region's future transit options

    Mass Transit

    TAMPA — It's time, yet again, for Tampa Bay residents to tell officials what kind of transit options they want for their region.

    The Cross-Bay Ferry docks at the Tampa Convention Center on its maiden voyage on Nov. 1, 2016. A regional premium transit study will determine whether a ferry, or other options such as express buses or light rail, would be a good addition to Tampa Bay. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  4. SOCom seeks civilian drone pilots to develop new technology through ThunderDrone


    TAMPA — For the last three years, Nicole Abbett has been using drones as part of her photography business, with clients like the city of Tampa and construction companies.

    Josh Newby, 31, Palm Harbor, of Tampa Drones fly's a drone in England Brothers park, Pinellas Park, 8/25/16. As drone popularity increases as a hobby and business, local governments are navigating a legal grey area- where, when, and how should drone flights be allowed?
  5. New apartment complex delivers unique floor plans


    RIVERVIEW — A new luxury apartment community has opened in the Progress Village area touting itself as a distinct living option just 10 miles from downtown Tampa.

    Alta at Magnolia Park dubs its new apartment community, that opened earlier this year in Riverview, a modern and distinct option for living just 10 miles from downtown Tampa.