Hamburger/casual dining chain Max & Erma’s is the latest culinary victim of the downturn. The Columbus, Ohio-based restaurant group has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to reports in The Columbus Dispatch, the chain owes its creditors up to $10 million. Asset value is estimated at $1 million to $10 million.
Acquired by Pittsburgh-based G&R Acquisitions in April 2008, Max & Erma’s was struggling even before the courts granted a $15.9 million judgment to National City Bank in a collection action earlier this month. The article quoted Ron Paul, president of Chicago restaurant and food research firm, Technomic, as saying the 106-restaurant chain faced strong competion. "That whole category of bar-and-grill casual restaurants have all become kind of look-alike, and not offering consumers anything to differentiate themselves. With Max & Erma's being the smaller player, they didn't have the marketing muscle the others have,” he told the newspaper. Paul added in the report that opening stores in weak restaurant markets such as Florida posed challenges as well.
This moves comes despite the fact that Max & Erma’s managed to pay down $9 million debt and posted a $275,000 profit in May—a marked gain on the $49,000 loss for the same period in the previous year.
All of the brand’s locations will remain open, according to the report.