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Roadhouse Grill chain succumbs to Chapter 7 bankruptcy

The Roadhouse Grill in Seminole was sold along with others in the chain. After yet another sale, the ultimate owner went bankrupt.

SCOTT KEELER | Times (2000)

The Roadhouse Grill in Seminole was sold along with others in the chain. After yet another sale, the ultimate owner went bankrupt.

SEMINOLE

The Roadhouse Grill, a popular Seminole restaurant, closed abruptly last month, fallout from the chain's bankruptcy.

The closure took some by surprise.

"I tried to eat lunch and they had chains on the door," Mark Ely, the city's director of development, said Tuesday.

The closure leaves Seminole without any mid level chain restaurants.

The only other chains in the city are fast food, such as Wendy's, Taco Bell and Panda Express.

The city's other restaurants, such as Fuji Yama, T'Asia, Country Kitchen and the Pickle Barrel deli, are locally owned. And most of those are nowhere near Seminole Mall, the city's downtown.

"It leaves us with sit-down breakfast places," Ely said. "It just leaves a hole."

Ely laughed when asked if the city had any inquiries from another tenant: "In this market? No. No. No."

Even if the economy was not iffy, Ely said, it will take a special tenant to rent the building.

"It is the only commercial structure in the city that's built over a retention pond," Ely said. "Because it's built over a retention pond, it would have to be a fairly unique use."

The Roadhouse had been a Seminole fixture since the mid 1990s and a popular lunch place for city officials. But it's been clear since last year that changes were in the works.

Duffy's Sports Grill, a 15-restaurant chain based in Palm Beach, bought the 57 Roadhouse restaurants in April 2007 for $29-million.

Not too long after, a representative from the restaurant came to City Hall to ask about changing the sign to Duffy's.

The employee left behind a jar of peanuts — one of the hallmarks of the Roadhouse was free-choice peanuts.

Later that day, two city employees went to lunch at the restaurant, 7498 Seminole Boulevard, and found new menus that were smaller and geared toward sports bar type food.

The transition never happened.

Six months after buying the chain, Duffy's sold it to a third entity, which took the chain into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in an effort to reorganize its debts and save it.

That didn't work.

Last month, according to court documents, a $1.3-million loan fell through.

The bankruptcy was then converted to Chapter 7, or total liquidation. Most, if not all, of the chain's 20 remaining stores were closed overnight.

Roadhouse Grill chain succumbs to Chapter 7 bankruptcy 06/03/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 6, 2008 8:08pm]
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