Restaurant operator Aurify Brands announced Tuesday that it plans to reopen more than 40 Le Pain Quotidien units after agreeing to purchase the brand out of bankruptcy for $3 million in May.
The sale was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on June 26 and closed Tuesday.
The reopened stores are based in markets across New York, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Florida. Some stores are expected to reopen as early as mid-July. The company said the return of Le Pain Quotidien will result in the creation of more than 1,200 jobs, including many former employees who were laid off because of the pandemic.
“We are thrilled to add Le Pain Quotidien, which has an ethos and mission we greatly admire, to our established and growing family of leading brands,” said John Rigos, co-CEO of Aurify Brands. “Leveraging Aurify Brands’ operational expertise and financial resources as well as our platform’s proprietary tools, systems, and infrastructure, we see a significant opportunity to build on LPQ’s unique position in the marketplace, differentiated offering, and loyal customer base to fully realize the brand’s potential. We look forward to welcoming back LPQ customers as we reopen locations across the country and are proud to continue to support the local communities in which all of our brands operate.”
In May, Belgian bakery chain Le Pain Quotidien agreed to sell its U.S. assets to restaurant operator Aurify Brands for $3 million through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding. At the time, Aurify committed to reopening at least 35 of the 98 domestic units, which all closed due to the COVID crisis. The bankruptcy filing avoided a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or a complete liquidation of assets.
Le Pain Quotidien cited several reasons for its bankruptcy including saturation of the market, expensive leases, underperforming stores, corporate turnover, changes to the supply chain and store staffing strategies, lack of investment in remodels and digital platforms, and an industry shift to off-premises. The bakery attempted to address some of its shortfalls through expansion of its to-go and digital channels, but the onset of the pandemic stifled the initiatives.
Alain Coumont first opened Le Pain Quotidien in Brussels, Belgium, in 1990. Seven years later, the first U.S. location opened on Madison Avenue in New York City. At one time, the restaurant operated 290 units globally.
Aurify, which looks to turn around the brand, has experience with Melt Shop, The Little Beet and The Little Beet Table, Fields Good Chicken, and Five Guys.
“At Aurify Brands, we are deeply committed to building quality brands that create one-of-a-kind experiences for our guests and unparalleled opportunities for our team members,” said Andy Stern, co-CEO of Aurify. “Especially during these unprecedented times, we are fortunate to be able to draw upon nearly two decades of industry experience, exceptional talent across our organization, and our innovative platform as we expand our presence within the hospitality industry. We are focused on continuing to position our brands for the long term and are excited to strategically grow our portfolio.”