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St. Louis Owner of TGI Friday's Talks Bankruptcy with Employees

James R. Brown
President and Principal Attorney at Castle Law Office

Posted on Jun 25, 2010

On June 12, Steve Bell, President of Chesterfield-based Tricorp management company, which owns five TGI Friday’s restaurants in the St. Louis area, met behind closed doors with the employees of the Friday’s located in Creve Couer to clear recent talks of bankruptcy. Employees in attendance at the meeting would not give specifics about what was discussed and said they had been advised to not speak with any media.

The meeting’s purpose was to clarify the situation concerning the recent Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection filing by Tricorp. The company filed for bankruptcy under the name BiState Bistro LLC.

According to what an anonymous source close to Tricorp corporate offices told Globe-Democrat.com, the troubles started when TGI Friday’s began requiring franchises to remodel their restaurants. That was confirmed by documents in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Eastern Missouri. The documents say that the remodeling expenses came around the same time revenue at its restaurants began dropping and the economy declined.

The anonymous source said that the belief was that the “revitalization of the restaurants” would result in a 15 percent increase in sales. But the return on the investment did not occur.

According to the source, Tricorp filed for bankruptcy under the names BiState Bistro and Primrose Properties because they wished to keep the situation from reaching public light. Reportedly, the general managers of the restaurants were kept informed, but they were told to remain silent in order for employees to not find out.

Another situation that harmed the Friday’s corporation was the closing of a Fayetteville, Arkansas restaurant due to a new 20-year-lease with Slevin Capital Investments Inc. BiState Bistro closed the location after being unable to renegotiate the lease’s terms.

Due to the sudden closing, Slevin Capital Investments filed suit against BiState Bistro. The ensuing lawsuit from the landlord contributed to the Chapter 11 filing.

Bell said business would continue as usual during the proceedings.

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