This story has been updated .
Earlier this week, PQ New York, Inc. announced an agreement to sell substantially all of the Le Pain Quotidien Bakery & Restaurant business in the U.S. for $3 million to Aurify Brands, LLC , a New York City-based hospitality company that operates several “category-leading” restaurants, including The Little Beet, Melt Shop, Fields Good Chicken, and The Little Beet Table.“To accomplish a going concern sale in the most efficient and expedient manner, PQ NY and certain of its affiliates (collectively, the “Company”) filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware (the “Court”),” the company announced in a press release.
The announcement follows the PQ New York’s temporary closure in late March 2020 of all of LPQ’s 98 restaurants nationwide and the subsequent termination of substantially all employees, primarily due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Larchmont Le Pain closed and then briefly re-opened, but has been closed again since the Mayor’s Safer-at-Home orders were issued on March 19, 2020.
Industry sources report that Aurify Brands may reopen some 35 or more of the shuttered restaurants to serve LPQ’s loyal customer base. They are also expected to add approximately 1,000 jobs, including the rehiring of a some LPQ former employees, if and when those locations are re-opened.
Belgium-based Le Pain Quotidien was struggling even before the pandemic, however, moving most recently to spin off both its American and British subsidiaries to avoid liquidation. At its peak, the chain operated nearly 300 units worldwide, according to Nation’s Restaurant News.
According to The Brussels Times, the British operation of the chain has been unable to find a buyer and has gone into administration, which in Europe means the company is under management of an administrator as it works out protection from creditors. The Bankruptcy allows the company the company to break 59 leases according to the Real Deal News, a New York real estate website.
“In the U.S., PQ NY blamed a sales decline in recent years on increased competition, a lack of investment in digital platforms and a consumer movement toward more convenient grab-and-go concepts. The pandemic-related shutdown became a last-straw event for the chain, forcing it to close, all 98 domestic locations — including restaurants in New York, Connecticut, California, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Chicago and Miami — and lay off about 2,500 employees,” reported to Nation’s Restaurant News.
So there’s still no definitive or specific news about our Larchmont LPQ…but if it doesn’t re-open, there will be yet another vacant space on the street. Building owner Mick McCullough told the Buzz late this afternoon that the Larchmont location is on the list to re-open, but he’s still waiting to hear confirmation.