Southland restaurant chain Sizzler files for bankruptcy

Commuters drive past a closed Sizzler restaurant in Montebello, California on September 22, 2020. - One of the first steakhouse chain restaurants in the United States, Sizzler has filed for bankruptcy as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo b

Orange County-based restaurant chain Sizzler, known for its moderately priced steaks and expansive salad bar, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday, blaming falling sales on the COVID-19 pandemic.  

According to the publication Restaurant Business, the Mission Viejo-based chain, which operates 107 locations, reported between $1 million and $10 million in liabilities and the same amount in assets.  

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The company stated it anticipates emerging from the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process within 120 days.  

"The filing is a direct result of the financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the casual dining sector, particularly long-term indoor dining closures and landlords' refusal to provide necessary rent abatement," Chris Perkins, the president and chief services officer of Sizzler USA, said ina prepared statement.  

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The chain plans to keep all of its locations open for business throughout the process of renegotiating leases, and franchisees will not be affected during the Chapter 11 process, according to the company.  

"Today's filing represents a new chapter for Sizzler, and it's an option we've undertaken based on the underlying strength of our 62-year-old legacy brand," Perkins said.

"Many restaurant brands across the country have suffered because of COVID-19 and Sizzler USA is no exception."  

According to the company, the filing will allow Sizzler "to do everything we can to support our employees and franchisees" and "build a stronger future."  

According to Eater Los Angeles, sales at Sizzler were already declining before the pandemic, and it remains unclear how many locations will return, if any, following the bankruptcy filing.  

The company owns 14 restaurant locations outright, while the remaining 93 are franchises, and it will be looking to renegotiate lease terms with landlords at those locations, at least, Eater reported.