Sizzler, last bastion of the restaurant buffet, files for bankruptcy

Allison Robicelli
·2 mins read
Exterior of a Sizzler restaurant in 2013
Exterior of a Sizzler restaurant in 2013

Today, I learned that casual steakhouse pioneer Sizzler still exists. Unfortunately I found this out because the company has declared bankruptcy, so my dreams of an all-you-can-eat shrimp-and-salad-bar road trip to one of its remaining locations may have died before they had a chance to live. Probably for the best, since there’s no way spending hours in a car with a belly full of cocktail shrimp and ranch dressing ends well, but in our dreams, truly anything is possible.

The 62-year-old chain managed to survive both a lethal E. coli outbreak and a rat-poison-in-the-salad-bar scandal in the last 20 years, but despite its resilience in the face of adversity, it might not be able to overcome the behemoth that is coronavirus. The company added that in addition to the decreased sales caused by COVID-19, the bankruptcy was forced by “landlords’ refusal to provide necessary rent abatement.” Still, Sizzler refuses to throw in the towel: trade publication Restaurant Business reports the chain has between $1 million and $10 million in liabilities and the same amount of assets; in a statement, executives said they hope to restructure their debt and emerge from the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process within 120 days.

“It is our ultimate goal to keep all Sizzler locations open for business throughout this process of renegotiating leases,” wrote Sizzler president Chris Perkins in the statement. “Today’s filing represents a new chapter for Sizzler and it’s an option we’ve undertaken based on the underlying strength of our 62-year-old legacy brand.”

We send our thoughts and prayers to Sizzler, and to all the people who still love it. When we come out of these crazy days, we’ll need all-you-can-eat shrimp more than ever.