Piccadilly Cafeteria closing on Sunday


Published: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 6:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 6:48 p.m.

The Piccadilly Cafeteria in Gainesville is closing after business Sunday — having served generations of diners going back to its days as Morrison's Cafeteria.

The restaurant on Northwest 13th Street is one of eight that Piccadilly is closing as the company goes through Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. The only other Florida location to close is in St. Petersburg, a company spokeswoman said.

"When it comes to our team members and guests, closing a Piccadilly Restaurant is the last option that we want to consider," Frank Frantom, regional manager, said in a prepared statement. "However, it is necessary to ensure a continuation of the Piccadilly brand. We believe this restructuring creates an opportunity for the company to focus on successful operations and create future employment opportunities."

The company is working with affected employees to place them at other locations wherever possible, he said.

Baton Rouge-based Piccadilly filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 11 for the second time in 10 years.

CEO Thomas Sandeman said in the filing that hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters since 2005 temporarily closed 56 of its restaurants while a number were also affected by the Gulf oil spill in 2010. The recession also reduced customer spending, including from seniors on a fixed income who make up a large percentage of Piccadilly's customer base.

After the company was unable to reach an agreement on its debt, Wells Fargo in April sold its debt to Atalaya, referred to in the bankruptcy filing as a New York-based vulture fund. Atalaya filed a lawsuit Sept. 5 seeking $25.7 million in principal and interest it said Piccadilly owed.

The lawsuit put in motion a process that could shut Piccadilly operations down, the bankruptcy filing said. At the time of the filing, Piccadilly operated 86 restaurants in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

Piccadilly purchased Morrison's Cafeterias in 1998, giving the company 244 locations, including in The Oaks Mall and at 2620 NW 13th St. The Oaks Mall location closed in 2001.

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