The parent company of Papa Gino's Pizzeria and D'Angelo Grilled Sandwiches said Monday that it has filed for bankruptcy protection while it is in the process of selling both restaurant chains.
"In order to effectively and efficiently complete the proposed sale, the company today filed petitions for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code," a news release said.
The company, PGHC Holdings, which is based in Massachusetts, said 95 "under-performing" Papa Gino's and D'Angelo locations closed during the weekend.
The Papa Gino’s on Reservoir Avenue in Cranston and the one on Tiogue Avenue in Coventry are among those that closed. The D’Angelo on Route 6 in Seekonk was shut down, too.
Several closed without warning, leaving customers and employees confused.
“I was surprised. I did hear about it earlier that some had closed but I didn’t think this would be closed. It’s a nice spot,” Charlie Coelho, a customer, said at the Seekonk location.
“No warning at all. Nothing. Nobody had a clue,” said Tammey George, who lost her job at the East Providence D’Angelo that closed. “I think it’s pretty sad the way that had to do us like they did. Holidays are right around the corner. Some of us have children. We work week to week. I just think it was a really poor, poor decision for them. They could have gave us more time.”
In a news release, PGHC Holdings said it would sell the two chains to Wynnchurch Capital.
PGHC said the deal would strengthen the chain's finances, allowing for remodeling and expansion.
"We are pleased to have reached an agreement that will ensure a long and prosperous future for these iconic New England restaurants," Chief Financial Officer Corey Wendland said in a statement. "For some time, we have been pursuing a plan to strengthen our financial footing and secure capital for investment in our restaurants, while also addressing our significant debt load. We are confident that the agreement with Wynnchurch achieves all of those goals."
One hundred Papa Gino's restaurants and 78 D'Angelo Grilled Sandwiches restaurants, including franchise locations, continue to operate and remain open for business, the news release said.
“We’re the sacrificial lambs,” said Keith Thibotot, who was the general manager at the Seekonk D’Angelo and went to work Sunday. “Getting ready to open at 11 o’clock. The next thing I know I’m getting phone calls from restaurants that are being closed saying, ‘We think you’re on the list.’ And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ Next thing I know there’s somebody from corporate knocking on the door saying, ‘This location is going to be permanently close. Can you help me shut it down?’ I get it, it’s business. You have to cut your losses. I get that. But to do it just like that with no notice”
The company said it is encouraging workers to apply for jobs at locations that are still open.
The company has restaurants in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
The sale will require court approval.