New York–based chain Sticky’s Finger Joint filed for bankruptcy Thursday, adding to the growing list of restaurants wavering amid tough economic times.

The company operates 12 locations—nine in New York and three in New Jersey. A franchising arm was previously established, but the program never got off the ground.

Sticky’s enjoyed early success, growing from $500,000 in annual sales in 2013 to more than $22 million in 2023. The fast casual however was significantly impacted by COVID; store traffic and revenues experienced “irrecoverable damage,” according to CEO Jamie Greer.

Even in the post-pandemic era, foot traffic in New York hasn’t returned to normal because of shorter work weeks for employees who used to commute to New York five days per week. Also, commodity prices—including chicken and potatoes—have seen “unprecedented increases” and are further pressuring the business, court documents stated. Sticky’s had to raise prices in response, which caused another blow to traffic.

“While the Debtors have adjusted as much as possible to this new reality (and cash flow has steadily improved), the Debtors are still recovering from the financial burdens and new business realities that resulted from COVID-19,” Greer said in the filing.

To cut costs, Sticky’s left its corporate office in New York City in 2021. A court awarded the landlord $600,000 in damages after the company exited the lease early. The restaurant appealed the judgment, but court proceedings have put another financial strain on operations. Additionally, Sticky’s is facing a trademark infringement lawsuit from barbecue company Sticky Fingers.

Sticky’s received more financing earlier this year, but not enough to mitigate financial headwinds.

“The Debtors file these cases with the goal of right-sizing their balance sheets and confirming a plan of reorganization that will provide value to their creditors,” Greer said. “The Debtors look forward to working with their creditors, vendors and other parties in interest as they chart a path to restructuring their balance sheet, realizing their full economic potential for the future, and continuing to provide their customers with the delicious meals they desire for years to come.”

The chicken chain joins a handful of recently announced bankruptcies from all over the country, including Tijuana Flats, Oberweis Dairy, and Foxtrot and Dom’s Kitchen & Market (reportedly liquidating assets in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy). On the full-service side, Red Lobster appears close to filing for bankruptcy.

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