Two Kansas City area restaurant chains file for bankruptcy five days apart

by Dan Margolies, Kansas News Service

The two operators of about a dozen well-known Kansas City restaurants sought bankruptcy protection within days of one another, with both saying the restaurants will remain open for business.

On Saturday, Bread & Butter Concepts LLC, which owns and operates Gram & Dun on the Country Club Plaza, Urban Table in Prairie Village and the Stock Hill steak restaurant just south of the Plaza, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Kansas. And on Thursday, HRI Holding Corp., which owns Leawood-based Houlihan’s Restaurants Inc., a casual dining chain, filed for Chapter 11 in Delaware.

Houlihan’s operates 47 restaurants, including Houlihan’s, J. Gilbert’s and Bristol Seafood Grill, in Kansas, Missouri and 12 other states. The company was founded in 1992 and is owned by affiliates of York Capital Management, an investment management company that bought Houlihan’s about three years ago.

Houlihan’s plans to sell its assets to Landry’s LLC, a Houston-based restaurant group, for $40 million, according to its bankruptcy filing. Landry’s made a “stalking horse” bid for Houlihan’s, establishing a floor for other offers that might emerge.

In a court filing, Houlihan’s chief restructuring officer, Matthew Manning, attributed the filing to “various industry headwinds,” including senior management changes, expensive leases and a tight labor market.

Coincidentally, the founder and CEO of Bread & Butter Concepts, Alan L. Gaylin, is a former Houlihan’s executive. The two bankruptcy filings were unrelated, although the same industry headwinds may have been a factor in Bread & Butter’s filing.

Bread & Butter ran into lease problems recently with The Oliver, another restaurant it operated on the Plaza. After negotiations for a new lease with the Plaza’s owner fell apart, the restaurant closed earlier this year.

The company’s bankruptcy attorney, Sharon Stolte, said Bread & Butter’s current restaurants, along with its separate catering service, event venue and Happy Belly Food Truck, will remain open while Bread & Butter seeks to restructure its debts.

“Our plans are to reorganize and to do it as quickly as possible,” she said.

Bread & Butter got its start nearly a decade ago when it opened BRGR Kitchen + Bar in Prairie Village. It recently sold its various BRGR restaurants, as well as its Taco Republic restaurant, to the parent company of Louie’s Wine Dive.

In a declaration filed with the bankruptcy court, Gaylin said two of his business partners, both Texas residents, suffered financial reverses in the oil industry and were no longer able to fund Bread & Butter’s losses or underwrite its losses.

Bread & Butter listed about $4.1 million in assets and $5.1 million in liabilities.

In a statement, the company said, “We have every intention of coming out on the other side a much stronger company, and one that will be in Kansas City for another ten years and beyond. We will continue to operate as usual with no interruptions to our service, or our continuing commitment to our customers.”

Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to
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Federal Reserve official to speak at Fairfax Industrial Association luncheon

Esther George, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, is scheduled to be the guest speaker from 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, at the luncheon of the Fairfax Industrial Association.

The luncheon will be at Neff Packaging, 555 Sunshine Road, Kansas City, Kansas. The sponsor is Delta Innovative Services. The cost of the luncheon is $25.

George leads more than 1,600 employees at the Federal Reserve Bank’s Kansas City office and branch offices in Denver, Oklahoma City and Omaha. The Kansas City Fed oversees seven states.

She will discuss the role of the Federal Reserve and new developments in the financial industry.

Registration is requested by 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, to

Up to $100 million in IRBs for PQ Corp. advances; KCK plant plans expansion

A PQ Corp. plant near 18th and Kansas Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas, is planning a $100 million expansion.

The Unified Government Economic Development and Finance Committee gave its approval to a $100 million industrial revenue bond issue for the PQ Corp. at the Monday night meeting. Next, the bond issue will go to the full UG Commission meeting for approval on Nov. 14.

PQ – Zeolyst International has done expansion projects here, and this project will be in addition to the previous ones, according to officials.

The PQ plant, built in 1915, has put in $200 million to $300 million in expansion projects here in the past 10 to 12 years, said Tony Larson, plant manager.

The number of employees at the plant has grown from about 90 employees in 1999 to around 160 currently, and this expansion will raise the number of employees into the 170s, he said. That would be an addition of 17 new jobs.

The plant, on a 25-acre site, makes catalysts that are very environmentally friendly, he said. The catalysts are used by other companies to trap emissions so they don’t enter the atmosphere, he said. PQ also sells catalysts to petrochemical plants that are used in the production process.

The business is expanding because all over the world, more environmental regulations are coming in, he added.

He said the PQ plant is constructing a new building, and it will expand a main production line inside an existing building.

PQ also recently bought a piece of property next to it plant and is remediating it, he said. Eventually it will be used as a parking area. It also has plans to buy another property next to the plant.

Katherine Carttar, UG economic development director, said of the $100 million IRB issue, $30 million would be for construction and $69.9 million would be for equipment and machinery, and about $400,000 would be used for land acquisition.

“The additional jobs that come with this are very well-paying and they would bring the total plant employment to just over 170, which is pretty impressive, especially considering the average salary is $77,000,” Carttar said. That is 46 percent higher than the average salary in the metro area, she added.

“Those are jobs we like to see,” she said.

Also, there would be about 259 temporary construction jobs created with this expansion, she said.

She said the project would have a a 10-year abatement term, and a total 75 percent abatement based on the UG’s policies.

A cost-benefit analysis was done, and it stated that the project exceeded the state’s requirement of a 1-to-3 ratio. The city would receive more than $3 back for each dollar invested and the state would receive more than $6 back for each dollar invested, she said. All taxing jurisdictions meet or exceed the 1-to-3 ratio.

“We think this is a pretty good project,” Carttar said.

It will allow for the expansion of a company that’s been around for over a hundred years, and the UG will benefit immediately from the first day of the project, she said.

Currently, the company is paying about $260,000 in taxes, and as abatements roll off, it will grow to $700,000, she said. In addition to the $700,000, starting in the first year of completion, the incremental property tax value will be more than $300,000 during the course of the abatement, Carttar said. In the 11th year, it will increase to $1.5 million in addition to the $700,000 they will be paying, she said.

“It’s amazing to me how Armourdale ships worldwide,” McKiernan said. “For me, this is one of those projects that is a win-win. Certainly you get the incentives so you have the capacity to expand, but we from day one will benefit not only from property taxes but from jobs available.”