Friday, July 25, 2008

Breaking News - OCB Wants to Close 127 Ryans

This news came to light this week through Reuters News Agency and Forbes. Our source of this information is those two news agencies and I credit them for the facts presented. A Fortress Investment Group affiliate has offered to take over 127 restaurants from Buffets, Inc., the owners of Old Country Buffets and the Ryans chain. As we have reported earlier this year, Buffets, Inc. is in bankruptcy proceedings.

It is Buffets, Inc. intention to close these 127 restaurants at the end of August 2008. This would put about 7,500 full and part-time employees out of work. From the reports, Buffets, Inc. is resisting the offer and would rather see these restaurants close. They see these restaurants, which represent half of the Ryan's restaurant chain as unproductive and poorly performing. Fortress has stated that should the courts allow Buffet. Inc to proceed and close these 127 Ryan's Restaurants it would only be the beginning to their closing all of the restaurants in the chain.

Fortress has filed with the court this past Monday to take over these 127 restaurants. Fortress is the "main leaseholder" of these restaurants. Fortress said that it would rather take over the restaurants than have Buffets, Inc. shut them permanently down. Forbes believes that these 127 buffets generate over $40 million dollars in cash flow after rent expenses, making these locations the "STRONGEST" of the Ryan's locations.

Fortress originally bid on the Ryans Buffet chain in 2006 when it was outbid by Buffets, Inc. who paid $876 million including debt for the entire chain. The 127 restaurants slotted to be closed represents one fifth of the entire 569 buffet restaurants run by Buffets, Inc. across the United States.

Earlier this month Buffets, Inc. filed with the US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware to reject the lease and close the restaurants by the end of this coming August. The Court will hear the argument on that motion next week.

Fortress would keep the restaurants open and operating. Buffets, Inc. would not comment on the Fortress filing, nor would Fortress reveal the amount offered, however, Fortress has said that they are "Willing to be flexible".

___________

My Commentary -

I certainly hope that the US Bankruptcy Court grants the Fortress filing and allows them to take over these 127 Ryans Buffet Restaurants (and hopefully, the remainder of the chain in the future). Buffets, Inc. has done nothing but ruin what was the best of the buffet restraurant chains since their take over. They have gone out of their way to press the worst of the Old Country Buffet components into what was a superior restaurant.

If you have read my site over time you know my feelings about Ryans. Even with the take over I rank Ryans now number two, with Golden Corral now at number one and Old Country Buffet still at the bottom at number three. I knew when the take over took place that it would mean disaster for Ryans and that certainly now has come to be. Perhaps had Fortress won the original bid these restaurants would have flourished.

Buffets, Inc. blames it reason for bankruptcy on "core customers (who) cut discretionary spending". Really? Perhaps they should have been paying more attention to the management of their locations, their employees - down to the floor workers in the restaurants, and what their restaurants had to offer - ACROSS the chains. Yes, less people are dining out, but still restaurants are doing business. Many older people eat at the chain buffets daily for either lunch or dinner, finding it a more economical and social way of dining than eating at home - even with the economy in the dumps as it is. People are still going to the chain buffets. As the flashier restaurants get more and more expensive, lesser priced buffets will see an increase in patronage.

This latest news is a great tragedy. To think that Buffets, Inc. would rather see 127 restaurants close and 7,500 people be put out of work rather than allow this other company to come in, take over these restaurants (high producing restaurants) allowing them to stay open and the employees to remain working is incredible! But why should I be surprised - it is Buffets, Inc. that we are talking about!

There is nothing for us to do but wait and see what the U.S. Bankruptcy Court decides next week. Let's all hope they see reason and allow these people to keep their jobs and for these restaurants to remain open under what has got to be a better parent corporation.

UPDATE

I had posted this as a comment but since many do not go to the comments section -

The Washington Post reports on July 30, 2008 that a judge STOPPED Buffets, Inc. from closing the Ryan's restaurants. The judge urged Buffets, Inc. to get together with Fortress and allow them to step in to take over the operation of those buffets.

30 comments:

lesliepear said...

Never been to a Ryan's. We just wish Old Country Buffet would come closer than an hour from us - if they did, I think they get a lot of $ from us :)

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. As a long time team member of Ryan's I hope Fortress will be allowed to take over our operations.

Anonymous said...

A couple of suggestions for buffets.

Shoneys in South Carolina
Great American Steak and Buffet in South Carolina and Tennessee

Western Sizzlin in South Carolina !(great buffet)

Robert A said...

The Washington Post reports on July 30, 2008 that a judge STOPPED Buffets, Inc. from closing the Ryan's restaurants. The judge urged Buffets, Inc. to get together with Fortress and allow them to step in to take over the operation of those buffets.

Wonderful news!

Anonymous said...

as a delivery driver for shoneys and ryans, i enjoy delivering the stores, i think that buffets is just being stubborn and pissed that fortress has lease on the properties

Anonymous said...

one of many managers at Ryans Here! Just holding my breath, trying to find out what's going to happen! (sigh)

Anonymous said...

Buffets Inc is NOT trying to close those restaurants. They have been trying to negotiate a fair lease with Fortress under the rules of Chapter 11. Please research your facts before you post.

Anonymous said...

As a Ryan's Manager, I do agree that Buffets has lowered the standard for Ryan's. The company is bankrupt and all they can talk about is passing a stupid cinnamon roll. Mike Andrews speaks of hard work and loyalty, but he is the first one in line to put those hard workers out of a job.

Robert A said...

The facts for this article were well researched and the decision to not close these restaurants was a ruling by the Court that took place on July 30th= as I posted earlier in this comments section.

Anonymous said...

As a manager of Ryan's, it is hard to believe that OCB has sdrewed up again, lower Ryan's standard by making us follow their recipes, gone bankrupt and now wants us to be jobless and homeless maybe, WHO CARES NOT BUFFETS - LET'S JUST ACT LIKE NOTHING IS HAPPENING AND WALK THROUGH THE DINING ROOM PASSING THOSE STUPID CINNAMON ROLLS AND ACT STUPID TO OUR CUSTOMERS WHEN THEY SAY THAT HEARD THE RUMOR THAT WE ARE CLOSING. MAYBE WE SHOULD DIRECT ALL THE GUEST TO THEIR TOLL FREE GUEST SERVICE NUBER AS WELL!!

Anonymous said...

As managers of this company we cant believe where Buffets Inc. has taken this successfull company. Since the take over we have been fearing for our jobs, both as team members as well as managers. They fired the majority of the loyal folks that build this company from the ground up, claiming that their folks would do better. Now they realize they cant handle what they took on, filed chapter 11 and now want to shut us down. That comment about the stupid cinnamon rolls is so true, while the man from "down under" is busy makin fools out of us and pacifiying us- the rest of us actually have to satisfy our guest with real problem solving skills. And bump your osat- when was the last time you went to a chinese buffet and were able to call in osats just to tick someone off. Guest with real concerns will let a manager now the rest will find a reason to complain if you give them one, especially if you offer them a $1000 for doing so. Stop being cheap and fix our equipment, now there is a real concern. We love our guest, team members & we take pride in our store. Underperforming and poor you said? Then lets remember that s... rolls down hill. Former Ryan's corporates we miss ya'll. Thanks a million to fortress for steppin in and saving us! Signed-"Old school Home of the Mega Bar"...

driver said...

Look up the Delaware bankruptcy court filing. Buffets would rather have shut down the remaining 127 of the 129 in the Fortress Master Lease than turn the stores over. They wanted this to happen by the end of August. Now, the judge is making them follow the terms of the master lease, not letting them close all the stores because of severance pay and back bills, even though they had an all or nothing option. So, now Buffets is trying to remove their intellectual property before the stores are transferred to Fortress within a 90 day window. I think Fortress is wanting to shut down the poorly preforming stores and keep the remaining open. Problem is, they don't have rights to the Ryans name. The 127 remaining stores have an annual gross income of over 40 million dollars. My worry is that if Fortress shuts down the stores, or goes with a new vendor, my company will probably fold, as we are on a knife edge because of rising fuel and people eating out less.

Anonymous said...

I'm a server 4 ryans, we have all been walking on egg shells wondering whats going to happen. It's been nothing but B.S. since buffet inc took over they took are benefits away,most of the perks we had at Ryans. They really need to look at mgt. most of them in the past few years have been idiots in charge. if fortress does take over from what i understand my ryans isnt a part of the 127. Whats going to happen to us. Since buffet inc. will still own us, i've heard they are going too start shutting some of those stores down in august.has anyone else heard anything?

Anonymous said...

Ditto on the cinnamon (just a roll with tons of sugar) pinwheel. We used to have a simple plan. 1.Take care of the employees. 2. Take care of the food. 3. Happy team members make customers that are happy with the food even happier.

Give me any location for me to own and I can make it profitable. However over the years managers have been pushed further and further away from being able to do what is right for their restaurant. They no longer act like owners but are more like puppets on a stage passing out sugar coated dough balls.

Robert A said...

What is an OSAT in relation to a buffet? I only find the meaning as One Step at a Time - which is not in context with the comment above.

Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Osat is Overall SATisfaction, When guest call into the camment number on the receipt they are asked many questions, but the only one that matters is rate your overall satisfaction with your visit 1-5. the only number that counts is a five a 1-4 means a negative score. have your percent drop below 65 and you will be hearing from your boss. So we have to cheat and have regulars call in to boost the score.
Oh and as i understand it Ryan's always tried to own the property that their locations were on, when Buffets took over they sold the master leases to two company's one of which is fortress, then a year later went to fortress and said that they wanted to close the under performing stores, Fortress said no that it was in violation of the agreement and to do so
Buffets would have to pay heavy fines. So at court Buffet's said that they would close all 127 stores, hoping that fortress would Blink and decide that it would be better to renegotiate the leases. Fortress than said that they will just take over the stores. Buffets tried to play a game of High stakes poker with the stores and is about to lose their ass. Maybe we won't have to pass those gawdawful cinnamon pinwheels any more and can get some edible chicken pot pie again.

Anonymous said...

Let Fortress take over, then the 127 Ryan's will be run properly. The original owners of Ryan's were so money hungry, they should have done their homework and found out that Buffets was only trying to stay above water by buying Ryan's. Being the top bidder,they beat out Fortress, but look where Buffets is at now, CAN YOU SAY BANKRUPT!!! nad only dealing with COI for food who are filing bankruptcy also and we don't receive all of our goods from them because of their history. BOY OH BOY, we sure got screwed in the buyout with buffets. Now we only pray that the Judge will force Buffets to let Fortress takeover and that we will be a better run Company and build back up to the Ryan' Standard that most of us are use to.

Anonymous said...

I have worked for Ryan`s for 10 years use to like going to work until Buffets inc took over now I walk on egg shells thinking how will i make it if we close. I have a 14 year old to raise by myself since my husband passed away
Hope Fortress takes over and we all can enjoy our work place once again.I agree about the cinnamon roll who wants them?I would rather take care of the customer and have my perks back that was taken away.

driver said...

COI is not a bad company. They have been in the food service industry for over 30 years. The marketplace as it stands is hard on everyone. They went out of their way to make room for Ryans. Also had a number of concepts go under, and that hurt tremendously. Driver routes are getting shorter to save money on fuel, everyone feels the squeeze.

Anonymous said...

I have been working for Ryan,s for about 18 years. I work with other team members that have been there for 24,22,and 12 years! WOW what loyalty. We have become like a family if our store closes it will be like a death in the family. We will miss our coustomers also. I wished we could of kept our old store that had the front line,those were the good-old days!!! Loyal team meamber

Anonymous said...

Ryan's decline began approx 8 years ago under the previous administration. Leadership from the current COO down thru the Mgmnt ranks is weak at best. This is a broke company that I don't see being around much longer. Fortress is just another investment firm looking for profit - not a restaurant company wanting to build a future. They will take the co. further down.

Anonymous said...

Just got a email today from the ceo and it looks like we will be continuing to pass cinnamon rolls for buffets. They negotiated a new lease agreement, so it does not look like Fortress will be taking over.

Anonymous said...

Where is Steve Layt & Mike Andrews Now ?
Making sure they get their 500K ?

Anonymous said...

general manager for ryan's here!!
everything about Buffet's has been horrible from the beginning. they have stripped us from being able to staff our stores with the appropriate number of staff and the ability to buy good food, because they are so cheap, and threaten us with our jobs if we spend to much on food and labor. now where stuck with them forever!! mike andrews is an idiot, and steve layt needs to go back to being a cashier at KFC (where he came from) i used to love my job, not any more!! my unit makes about 50K profit every month. (what's so underpreforming about that!!) so i guess i'll just ride the wave, until they completely run the entire company into the ground. which by the way is what happens when you have accountants playing boss of a restaurant company. I bet someone from the field could but us back on top again. oh and also Rick Kirk your an idiot! how about when you roll out some new program, try thinking about it first.
RESET !!! what a joke.
how about giving us our 401(k) back . talk about LOYALTY!!

Anonymous said...

this is pretty interesting.....to see how much so many others have researched this topic as well. And to think that Corporate, for 2 months, turned their backs on the stores that they felt they were losing, only to re-etablish communications and pretend that it's 'business as usual". I think this is kinda cool, seeing others that can relate to what i go through daily. we need to start a chat room!!! BTW, anyone know where to pick-up the roll mix that we can't get anymore.....i don't wanna go to a table to say " i'm sorry that we don't have our 'signature item'"

Anonymous said...

I HAVE WORKED WITH RYAN'S FOR 10YRS AND I REALLY WOULD LIKE IF BUFFET WOULD STOP PLAYING GAME AND TELL US WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO DO. MY MANAGERS REALLY DON'T KNOW WHAT TO TELL US BUT (WE HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT WE ARE NOT IN THAT GROUP OF STORE THAT WILL BE CLOSING)I CAN BELIVE ALL THIS! THEY NEED TO TELL US THE TRUE ABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON. WE HAD MANGERS THAT HAD TO BE MOVE TO OTHER STORES AND THEY WHERE TOLD THEY DID HAVE A CHOICE. I LOVE THE WORK I DO AND I HOPE THAT ALL THE STORES REMAIN OPEN.

Anonymous said...

It should be an interesting few weeks now. Ryans will be purchasing their own food and their delivery company will only be storing and shipping it. Also, one of the 3 warehouses owned by their foodservice company will be closing in the next eight weeks.

Anonymous said...

I've only worked for Ryan's for a few months. I'm not happy with what I've heard. Apparently, I'm a member of The 127. I'm also in one of the top performing stores. I, from personal experience, can't understand why my store would be closed. We consistently generate incredible profits for a buffet. Anyone who says, "Core patrons have cut back on discretionary spending", or whatever the quote was, have obviously never been to my restaurant.
Food quality definitely isn't there. That is, by no means a condemnation of management. They make the best, at least in my situation, out of what they are given, which seems very slight at times.
At the end of the day, doesn't the food quality directly effect your performance? Perhaps Buffets Inc. should attribute that to their loss, instead of blaming their customers or the people who work so diligently to make them what little profit they have to show for dismantling a once very profitable company.

David from Gary Indiana said...

I don't know how many Ryans locations have closed already, but they closed the Lafayette Indiana location a few months ago. My sister went to that location a lot, then heard from the people who worked there, that they were out of work within 48 hours. She misses their restaurant. I visited the Lafayette Indiana location in March of 2007, and it was in a bad location, with access only in the southbound lane of US 52 (Sagamore Parkway). Who knows if Ryans would have stayed open had they been on State Road 26 East or SR 38 East.

The one in Michigan City Indiana is also being rumored to close as well. I've never been to a Ryans prior to Buffet Inc's takeover, but what they do offer is better than what OBC offers. But Ryans will never open in Lake County Indiana, nor anywhere in the Chicagoland area, in order to keep Ryans from stealing business from OBC. The closest Chicagoland location was in Bradley Illinois, which opened in 2005, and closed after Buffet Inc. took them over a year later.

Anonymous said...

I worked at the Ryan's in Buford GA as of 11/18/2008 the store closed... the funny thing is that we got a new mgr and business was starting to pick up! Why close the store when business is coming around again. I have heard to that one of the two in Athens GA has closed on the same day.. Its hard to find a job with the economy the way it is!