You might say that customers literally line up to dine at these restaurants. Buffets, Inc. is the largest operator of buffet-style eateries in the US, with more than 400 locations in almost 40 states. Operating under such names as HomeTown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, and Ryan's Grill Buffet, the dining spots generally offer self-service buffets featuring entrees, sides, and desserts for an all-inclusive price. In addition to its company-owned locations, Buffets, Inc. has more than a dozen franchised buffet restaurants. A group of lenders, including Credit Suisse, control the company. Buffets, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early 2012.
The company's will use the bankruptcy process to eliminate about $245 million in debt. As part of the reorganization, Buffets, Inc. will close more than 80 underperforming locations.
This is the second time the company has gone through the Chapter 11 process. It was forced to seek Chapter 11 protection in 2008, citing losses and a heavy debt load. The company closed more than 50 underperforming restaurants as part of its reorganization and emerged from bankruptcy the following year with financing from new lenders. Buffets, Inc. had been controlled by private-equity firm CI Capital Partners (formerly Caxton-Iseman Capital).
Buffets, Inc. primarily targets the family-dining segment, aiming its appeal towards price-conscious patrons looking to get a good value for their money. Its brands each offer a slightly different dining experience and menu but typically they also have a regional affiliation: HomeTown Buffet reigns mostly in California, Ryan's holds sway in the South, and Old Country Buffet covers the Midwest.
Within the buffet and steak buffet markets, Buffets, Inc. competes most directly with national giant Golden Corral, but the company's chains also face competition from family dining brands such as Denny's and Cracker Barrel. – less