Max & Erma’s Restaurants Inc. has filed for bankruptcy court protection from creditors amid mounting legal and financial challenges for the Columbus-based dining chain.
The 106-unit restaurant business, which was acquired last year by Gary Reinert Sr.’s Pittsburgh-based G&R Acquisitions Inc., filed Friday for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Pittsburgh.
Consultant Tracy Coats said Monday that he earlier advised Reinert to consider Chapter 11 reorganization for the restaurant chain but Reinert resisted until National City Corp. called in its loan to Max & Erma’s.
“He told me he wasn’t someone who hides from his debts,” Coats said. “The notion was repugnant to him.”
National City secured cognovit judgments in September and October for $15.9 million against Max & Erma’s, G&R, Reinert and Damon’s International Inc., the Columbus-based chain of 50 restaurants also acquired by Reinert last year.
Coats said Reinert has paid almost $9 million of $23 million owed to National City in the past year.
Max & Erma’s listed debts of $1 million to $10 million in its court filing and assets between $1 million and $10 million in the bankruptcy filing.
Its five largest unsecured claims are from:
- Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Franchise Finance Corp. of America, now GE Franchise Finance, for $1.7 million.
- Ohio Department of Taxation, for $1.1 million.
- Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, for $300,000.
- Michigan Department of Treasury, for $190,000.
- Cincinnati-based Engineering Excellence Inc., for $97,705.