Midwestern Pizza Chain Files for Bankruptcy

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Since 2010, a growing number of well-known restaurant franchises have filed for bankruptcy.

In 2022, some regional and national favourites bankrupted or disappeared. In July, Hale & Hearty unexpectedly shuttered its 16 remaining NYC shops. In June, the last Howard Johnson's closed.

Texas-based Hometown Burger recently bid farewell to its followers in San Antonio, where it has operated since 2016. The company posted a notice closing all eight of its eateries overnight.

A popular Midwestern pizza company joins this group.

This month, Happy Joe's parent business Dynamic Restaurant Holdings filed for bankruptcy. Dynamic also owns Tony Sacco's in Florida. Company-owned stores of both brands will close.

End of 2021, Happy Joe's has 42 locations in Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Illinois, Missouri, and Minnesota.

In the September 2 bankruptcy filing, 9 Happy Joe's and 2 Tony Sacco's were affected. 3 Happy Joe's and both Tony Sacco's have already closed.

The brands aren't vanishing, though. The bankruptcy won't affect franchised sites, which account for 90% of Happy's Joe's and 50% of Tony Sacco's restaurants.

"I don't want people to feel terrified," said Happy Joe's CEO Tom Sacco. "We have 50 years left. My word."

So what caused Joe's downfall? Dynamic mentions the lasting consequences of COVID-19 and increased prices of employees, supplies, and rentals.

Dynamic obtained a controlling share in both businesses in 2017 with two loans from AAVIN Equity Advisors. Dynamic owes $1.2 million to the Happy Joe's seller.

The combination of COVID-19 and high prices "hampered [Dynamic's] capacity to continue operations with their present footprint and pay operational expenditures.

Happy Joe's was created by Lawrence Joseph "Happy Joe" Whitty in 1972. Locations include spaghetti, sandwiches, and ice cream sundaes in addition to pizza.

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