Pandemic Bankruptcies: Retailers were having a tough time even before the pandemic, and a massive number of companies have waved the white flag as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on not just retail, but other parts of the global economy. Here are some of the most prominent companies to file for bankruptcy since mid-March of 2020, including the newest victim: an iconic theater chain known for its draft beers and boozy milkshakes.
Studio Movie Grill
Dinner and a movie are the classic night out — except, of course, during a global pandemic. Studio Movie Grill, a restaurant and theater chain with 33 locations sprinkled across the country, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2020 and drained almost all its cash reserves. Although the company was among the fastest-growing in the theater business just two years ago, the pandemic led to a three-month closing, and several locations remain closed.
Like many casual dining chains, Ruby Tuesday was fighting for survival against fast-casual upstarts long before the pandemic. But COVID-19 made it nearly impossible to stay afloat, and the Tennessee-based company filed for Chapter 11 in October 2020. It recently finished restructuring and exited bankruptcy with 209 locations remaining, a significant drop from the 451 restaurants it had at the end of 2019.
New York & Co.
RTW Retailwinds, the parent company of women’s fashion retailer New York & Co., filed for bankruptcy in July 2020 after losing millions and defaulting on payments to landlords and vendors in the wake of COVID-19 closings. The company has shut down all of its nearly 380 stores, and sold its ecommerce business to Sunrise Brands.
The largest operator of iconic fast-food brands Pizza Hut and Wendy’s had been on shaky footing since the beginning of 2020, with a debt burden approaching $1 billion. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July, and a potential sale of its restaurants to Flynn Restaurant Group is tied up in court.
Chuck E. Cheese
The parent company of this iconic kids’ pizza chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2020 even as many of its 550 locations reopened across the country. The CEO called COVID-19 “the most challenging event in our company’s history,” and the company eventually announced that it would permanently shutter close to three dozen locations. Chuck E. Cheese got the go-ahead to exit bankruptcy near the end of the year, its debt slashed by nearly a half-billion.
Denim giant True Religion filed for bankruptcy in April 2020, its second time restructuring in three years. The company called out COVID-19 for compounding its money crunch and said Chapter 11 would help it stay in business once stores could reopen. True Religion exited Chapter 11 in October with about 50 stores, down from close to 90.