Struggling bakery and cafe chain Le Pain Quotidien has sold all of its 98 United States locations for just $3 million to New York-based food brand Aurify, which operates other fast-casual spots like the Melt Shop, Fields Good Chicken, and the NYC locations of Five Guys, Nation’s Restaurant News reports.
Aurify plans to reopen at least 35 LPQ locations in the U.S., though initial reports did not say how many would be in NYC. Eater has reached out for details. The office lunch chain, which has been struggling for years now due to increased competition from places like Pret a Manger and Dig, closed all of its locations after the novel coronavirus pandemic hit in March, and laid off all of its nearly 2,500 staffers.
In April, reports emerged that the company was planning to permanently close 19 locations across the U.S., including five in Manhattan. And on Wednesday, the U.S. arm of the Belgian company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, with court filings revealing that LPQ had planned to do so even before the pandemic hit. The company reported a $17 million loss on $153 million in sales in the U.S. last year.
It’s not just the U.S. operations that are struggling. The chain’s United Kingdom operations are in trouble as well, and a group of creditors are now working on the possibility of making the chain viable there again.
The bakery chain was started in Brussels, Belgium in 1990 and saw a massive expansion in the subsequent decade. The first U.S. outpost opened in NYC in 1997, and the city continued to account for a majority — 56 percent — of the brand’s sales in the U.S. At its peak, the bakery chain had 300 locations across the world including outposts in Brazil, Argentina, India, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates.
In recent years, though, increased competition from chains more geared to grab-and-go meals and ones with more digital presence, decimated the business, according to court filings. The pandemic-related shutdown dealt the final blow. It’s not yet clear when any of the LPQ locations will reopen, but Eater will update this post when we learn more.