Buffets, Inc.

Background

Buffets is a national chain of buffet style restaurants. As of 2007, it was ranked third in the family dining segment and first in the grill buffet sub-segment.

The company had nearly doubled in size, to over 550 locations in 2007. Meanwhile, revenue deteriorated as the economy declined, and input costs increased as vendors raised prices.

A combination of high leverage, restaurant market challenges, and integration issues caused severe liquidity constraints and ultimately led to the need for Chapter 11 restructuring.

Project

Upon arrival, the Zolfo Cooper team stabilized the business by gaining control of cash, arranging DIP financing, and communicating with employees. Importantly, they effectively reassured vendors, thereby maintaining continuity of supply and avoiding a costly business interruption.

Key initiatives included:

  • Standardizing purchasing across stores, which improved controls, provided negotiating leverage with vendors, and cut raw material costs.
  • Analyzing and renegotiating problematic store leases.
  • Rationalizing labor.

From a strategic perspective, the ZC team produced a comprehensive five-year business plan which determined the viability of the company’s core business concept, reevaluated price points, re-positioned the Buffets brand relative to its competition, and developed a growth strategy.

Outcome

Working closely with the management team, Zolfo Cooper improved Buffets’ competitive position and profitability, facilitating their exit from Chapter 11.

Zolfo Cooper successfully managed the Chapter 11 reorganization process and restructured the business in a challenging credit environment.