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Carlsbad-based restaurant chain Rubio's files for bankruptcy

Posted at 1:16 PM, Oct 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 00:49:06-04

(KGTV) – The company that operates Rubio’s Coastal Grill restaurants has filed for bankruptcy protection, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons for its decision.

Reuters reported Monday that the Carlsbad-based company filed a restructuring plan that includes a plan to reduce its debt.

The company confirmed in a statement that it “filed a prepackaged plan with the acceptance of its lenders, and voluntarily filed petitions for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.”

Additionally, Rubio’s said they expect “to complete its restructuring by the end of the year." The company has 47 locations in San Diego County and more than 1,000 local employees.

"It was COVID that got us here, a very extraordinary situation, such as that we find ourselves in this position," co-founder Ralph Rubio said in an interview. "The great news is all of our restaurants are open, everybody is still employed, we're still operating just as we were before."

Marc Simon, president and CEO of Rubio’s, said: “Rubio’s entered the year in a strong financial position, which has helped the Company remain flexible in navigating the unprecedented impact of the pandemic. The agreement with our sponsor and lenders will position the Company to thrive in this constantly evolving market. This plan will strengthen our finances and allow us to continue to serve our loyal guests and drive our business forward.”

Rubio added, in a company statement: “COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Rubio’s, like most businesses, and I’m proud of how we have responded to the challenge. Our investments in critical digital technologies in 2019, including online ordering, a mobile app, a new loyalty program and Rubio’s delivery, allowed us to pivot swiftly under varying state and county restrictions. We quickly launched family meal kits and shifted to takeout, curbside pickup and free delivery operations, allowing our guests to enjoy our delicious food when and where they want it. This restructuring plan creates the long-term financial stability we need to continue to serve our communities for years to come.”

Despite the bankruptcy filing, company officials said all of its more than 150 locations in Arizona, California, and Nevada will continue to operate as normal.

Rubio told ABC-10 that sales plummeted in the first two months of the pandemic, but have since recovered to just single-digit percentages off from last year's sales.

Legal filings show Rubio's has $50 million to $100 million in assets, but $100 million to $500 million in liabilities.

The company permanently shut down 26 locations in Colorado and Florida due to “this year’s unforeseeable business circumstances.” Those locations had been temporarily closed at the onset of the pandemic.

Rubio’s, known for its fish tacos, first started as a taco stand in Mission Bay in 1983.