Punch Bowl Social files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after pandemic devastates its business

  • Punch Bowl Social filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday.
  • As recently as February, the once-buzzy "eatertainment" chain looked to be the future of the restaurant industry, offering arcade games and karaoke along with food and drinks.
  • But the pandemic devastated its business, and its investor Cracker Barrel opted to shore up its own liquidity instead of helping Punch Bowl.

Punch Bowl Social filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday after the coronavirus pandemic devastated its business.

As recently as February, the once-buzzy "eatertainment" chain looked to be the future of the restaurant industry, offering arcade games and karaoke along with food and drinks. Cracker Barrel invested $140 million in a stake of the company last year, and Punch Bowl had grown to 20 locations by the time lockdowns went into place in March.

The crisis evaporated its customer base, and Cracker Barrel opted to shore up its own liquidity in March instead of helping Punch Bowl stay afloat.

CEO Robert Thompson, who founded Punch Bowl in 2012, exited the company in the midst of the pandemic. Its primary lender CrowdOut Capital became a partial owner and hired a new chief executive: John Haywood, who has earned a reputation as a turnaround specialist.

Punch Bowl has liabilities of between $10 million to $50 million, according to bankruptcy filings. It owes more than $10 million for a Payment Protection Program loan to JPMorgan Chase, its top creditor. The majority of its other creditors are leaseholders from its locations scattered across the country.

The company is the latest in a flood of restaurants and retailers who have sought bankruptcy protection during the pandemic, including Chuck E. Cheese's parent company, Ruby Tuesday and J. Crew. Bankruptcy experts have predicted a new flood of filings after the holidays.

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