Waffle House not Affected by Franchisees chapter 11

By Carl Cronan of GlobeSt.com

Tuesday, December 09, 2008 –  NORCROSS, GA-Locally based Waffle House Inc., which has 1,500 never-closed restaurants throughout half the US, does not appear to be affected by bankruptcy filings by two of its major franchisees in the Southeast. Only a few of its iconic 1,400-square-foot yellow buildings have closed since the actions began in recent months.
SouthEast Waffles LLC, which owns 113 Waffle House units, filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in August after discovering what it termed as “accounting irregularities,” including nearly $3 million owed in federal income tax. The Nashville, TN-based franchisee is working with Atlanta-based Resurgence Financial Services LLC on a restructuring plan.

In September, Tampa, FL-based Northlake Foods LLC also filed Chapter 11 to halt Waffle House from kicking it out of the chain. Northlake has 125 restaurants, mostly in Central Florida but also in Georgia and Virginia. The company previously owned 146 restaurants and claimed annual revenue of approximately $80 million.

Executives at Waffle House’s Norcross headquarters decline comment on the pending bankruptcies. An attorney representing the company in both cases, Philip Martino of DLA Piper in Tampa, did not return a phone message before the weekend.

Retail observers say the bankruptcies of the Tampa and Nashville franchisees do not appear to have hurt Waffle House’s locations overall. The privately held chain, second-largest in the US behind Denny’s Corp., has 6,000 employees and annual sales of $750 million, according to the business information Web site OneSource.

Waffle House, which began near Atlanta in 1955, is famous for serving breakfast fare plus T-bone steaks and burgers around the clock every day of the year, including holidays. The chain has working jukeboxes in each of its 35-seat eateries, along with signature menu items such as “scattered, smothered and covered” hash browns.

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