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All These Companies Filed for Bankruptcy in 2020

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One for the History Books

Just about everyone is eager to show 2020 the door, but it was a particularly ruthless year for many retailers, restaurants, and other big-name companies. Slammed by the pandemic, a slew of notables found themselves on the brink of collapse. While most are trying to weather the storm, others have closed up shop completely. Here's a rundown of well-known companies that have filed for bankruptcy in the last year.

Related: Companies That Closed Stores in 2019

Krystal
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Krystal

Best known for serving up sliders across the southeastern United States, this fast-food chain sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the end of January. It blamed several factors for the filing, including shifting consumer tastes, increasing overhead, and unfavorable leases. Though it closed about 44 restaurants in 2019, the remainder of its roughly 300 locations remained open. A new buyer, Fortress Investment Group, took the helm in May.

Related: Chain Restaurants That Are Closing Locations — and Which Ones Could Be Next

Bar Louie
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Bar Louie

The second major restaurant chain to seek bankruptcy protection in 2020 was Bar Louie, which filed for Chapter 11 in late January. The pub chain was more than $100 million in debt and had previously closed nearly 40 locations, blaming falling foot traffic at nearby malls for a reduction in business. As the pandemic took hold, another 22 restaurants closed. The streamlined chain emerged from Chapter 11 in June with a new owner.

Related: Beloved Restaurants and Bars That Closed Permanently This Year

Papyrus
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Papyrus

While this stationery chain still has a modest online presence, all of its more than 250 physical locations closed this year after parent company Schurman Retail Group filed for bankruptcy in January. The mainly mall-based retailer had expanded dramatically in the previous decade, a move that collided with falling foot traffic in its stores.

Related: 50 Events That Made Retail History Before the Pandemic

Pier 1 Imports
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Art Van Furniture
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Art Van Furniture

This prominent Midwestern furniture and mattress chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early March, just before pandemic lockdowns began. Hurt by online competitors including Wayfair, furniture tariffs, rapid expansion, executive turnover, and other factors, the company soon decided to convert to a Chapter 7 liquidation filing, and shut down all of its nearly 170 stores.

Closed storefront
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Fingerhut

Bluestem Brands, parent company of Fingerhut and other lesser-known direct-to-consumer brands, filed for bankruptcy in March. The company cited weak holiday sales in 2019, a credit downgrade, and high debt levels among the reasons for its Chapter 11 filing. Bluestem was sold to Cerberus Capital Management out of bankruptcy in July.

Modell's
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Modell's Sporting Goods

After more than 130 years in business, Modell’s Sporting Goods filed for Chapter 11 in March after attempts to sell the chain were unsuccessful. Modell’s had been suffering on several fronts, including a decline in youth sports, stiffer competition from big-box stores, and the rise of ecommerce. The pandemic forced the chain to pause going-out-of-business sales at its more than 150 stores, but they eventually continued at the end of June.

Dean & DeLuca
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Dean & DeLuca

Long a shell of its former self, gourmet grocer Dean & DeLuca filed for bankruptcy at the end of March. The grocer, bought by a Thai company in 2014, closed its last remaining store in October 2019 and reported that it had one remaining employee and more than a half-million dollars in liabilities. Still, it hopes to restructure and eventually reopen stores in New York City.

Related: These Beloved Grocery Stores are Gone Forever

True Religion
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True Religion

Denim giant True Religion filed for bankruptcy in April, its second time restructuring in three years. The company called out COVID-19 for compounding its money crunch and said Chapter 11 would help it stay in business once stores could reopen. True Religion exited Chapter 11 in October with about 50 stores, down from close to 90. 

SpeedCast International
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SpeedCast International

Satellite communications company SpeedCast International, the company likely responsible for the internet connection on your last cruise, filed for bankruptcy in April after sustaining a one-two punch: Cruises were halted because of the pandemic, and its other major customer, the oil industry,  struggled as oil prices bottomed out.

Related: 1 in 4 Avid Cruise Goers: 'I'll Never Go on a Cruise Again'

Frontier Communications
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Frontier Communications

While most communications businesses were well-positioned to survive and even thrive during the pandemic, Frontier Communications filed for Chapter 11 in April, admitting it's been slow to upgrade its network, especially as customers expect faster internet speeds. The company pledged to maintain service while restructuring.

Hits Keep Coming
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Aldo

This footwear retailer announced in early May that it had filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the United States and was seeking similar relief in Canada, where it is based, and Switzerland. While it said it had faced challenges before the pandemic, COVID-19 "has put too much pressure on our business and our cash flows."

Related: 25 Canadian Stores That Americans Love

Neiman Marcus
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Neiman Marcus

Department stores have long been struggling to adapt to a world increasingly dependent on ecommerce, and the "unprecedented disruption" caused by COVID-19 forced the hand of debt-saddled luxury chain Neiman Marcus. It filed for Chapter 11 protection in early May and stayed open during reorganization, emerging from bankruptcy in September with a debt load reduced by a whopping $4 billion.  

Gold's Gym
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Gold's Gym

The pandemic was crushing for gyms, and Gold's Gym announced in early May that it was filing for bankruptcy, saying "no single factor" has harmed its business more than COVID-19. Though the chain closed 30 locations permanently in April, the rest stayed open. The company was later acquired by RSG Group, a German company, at auction in July. 

Related: 14 Industries That Have Been Hit Hardest by the Pandemic

J. Crew
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J. Crew

Preppy-apparel stalwart J. Crew has been in trouble for years, a victim of lower mall foot traffic and the shift to online shopping even as its Madewell brand found a following. It filed in early May for Chapter 11 protection, but experts say that probably would have happened regardless of the pandemic. The chain exited bankruptcy in September with a new majority owner, investment firm Anchorage Capital Group. 

Related: 14 New Rules for Clothes Shopping During the Pandemic

Goody's Store
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Stage Stores

This parent company of well-known chains including Bealls, Goody's, and Palais Royal sought Chapter 11 protection in mid-May, a move being discussed before the pandemic. Although it initially sought a buyer, Stage was eventually forced to liquidate its more than 700 stores.

Avianca
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Avianca

This prominent Latin American airline filed for Chapter 11 protection in mid-May, blaming "the unforeseeable impact" of the pandemic on business. The company cited travel lockdowns, but analysts said the airline was already in trouble from negative credit ratings and sudden leadership changes.

Related: This U.S. Airline Has Cut 76% of Its Routes

Souplantation
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Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes

While most major companies restructure in bankruptcy, the parent company of prominent buffet chains Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes opted to close all locations for good. Garden Fresh Restaurants filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in mid-May, saying federal regulations forbidding self-service in restaurants made salvaging the business too difficult.

JCPenney
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JCPenney

JCPenney has been on retail analysts' watch list for a while, and the beleaguered department store chain finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-May. The company said the pandemic had torpedoed ongoing efforts to bolster its finances. It is closing 240 stores as part of its restructuring plan, but a purchase by mall landlords Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Group should save the roughly 600 remaining locations

Related: 30 Things to Buy at JCPenney While You Still Can

Hertz
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Hertz

The rental-car behemoth filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late May, saying the pandemic had brought business to a screeching halt as would-be travelers stayed home. In October, the company received more than $1.5 billion to finance its operations while in bankruptcy a couple months after a plan to sell its stock attracted scrutiny from the SEC. 

LATAM Airlines
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LATAM Airlines

Latin America's largest carrier filed for Chapter 11 protection at the end of May. Unlike chief competitor Avianca, it was on solid financial footing before most flights were grounded, according to Reuters.

Tuesday Morning
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Tuesday Morning

This Dallas-based discount home-goods chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of May, saying it was the only way to bounce back from two months of pandemic-related store closings. Part of the reorganization: The company said it would close 230 of its 700 stores.

24 Hour Fitness
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24 Hour Fitness

The national fitness chain joined Gold's Gym in pandemic-related bankruptcy with a Chapter 11 filing in June. The company said its money troubles were a direct result of COVID-19 closings and announced that about 100 of its 400 locations would be shut down permanently during reorganization. 

In Trouble: GNC
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Chuck E. Cheese's
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Chuck E. Cheese

The parent company of this iconic kids' pizza chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of June even as many of its 550 locations reopened across the country. The CEO called COVID-19 "the most challenging event in our company's history," and the company eventually announced that it would permanently shutter close to three dozen locations. Chuck E. Cheese recently got the go-ahead to exit bankruptcy, its debt slashed by nearly a half-billion. 

Related: 12 Places That Kids Love But Parents Hate

Cirque du Soleil
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Cirque du Soleil

The legendary producer of mind-bending acrobatics shows in Las Vegas and elsewhere announced in late June that it had filed for bankruptcy and would lay off about 3,500 people. Cirque du Soleil attributed the moves to challenges brought about by the pandemic. The company emerged from bankruptcy in November thanks to a bid by some of its creditors.

Wendy's
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NPC International

The largest operator of iconic fast-food brands Pizza Hut and Wendy's had been on shaky footing since the beginning of 2020, with a debt burden approaching $1 billion. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the beginning of July, and a potential sale of its restaurants to Flynn Restaurant Group is tied up in court

Aeromexico Check In Counter
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Aeromexico

Mexican airline Aeromexico announced in early July that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States as a result of the "unprecedented challenges" the airline industry is facing. It has continued to operate and moved ahead with plans to add flights during restructuring.

 

Lucky Brand
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Lucky Brand

Lucky Brand, known for its denim and bohemian-inspired apparel, filed for bankruptcy at the beginning of July. Like many well-known mall retailers, Lucky Brand had been struggling with slumping sales over the past decade as would-be buyers started turning to ecommerce instead. It closed 13 stores and found a buyer in Simon Property Group and Authentic Brands.

Sur La Table Storefront
Sur La Table Storefront by Ajay Suresh (CC BY)

Sur La Table

This specialty cookware retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early July and was sold for close to $90 million. The buyers have kept at least 50 of the chain's 120 stores open. The pandemic forced Sur La Table to not only shutter most stores this year but cancel its in-store cooking classes, a cornerstone of the brand.

Brooks Brothers
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Brooks Brothers

Brooks Brothers has long been on uncertain footing as employers have relaxed formal dress codes, lessening demand for its pricey suits. The chain noted for its menswear filed for bankruptcy in July and halted manufacturing at three U.S. factories. It was bought by Simon Property Group and Authentic Brands in September, and it will continue with about 125 stores, down from more than 400 in pre-pandemic times. 

Muji
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Muji

Like many retailers, this Japanese home-goods chain with locations around the world saw its stores closed temporarily because of the pandemic. But its U.S. stores, clustered mostly in New York and California, have been struggling to turn a profit for several years. The chain said it would refocus on its online business and close "a small number" of stores while in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which it declared in July.

New York & Company
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New York & Co.

RTW Retailwinds, the parent company of women's fashion retailer New York & Co., filed for bankruptcy in July after losing millions and defaulting on payments to landlords and vendors in the wake of COVID-19 closings. The company has shut down all of its nearly 380 stores, and sold its ecommerce business to Sunrise Brands. 

Paper Store
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Paper Store

This Northeastern chain selling stationery, ornaments, and other giftable items filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July, blaming pandemic-related store shutdowns. It kept its doors open during restructuring, emerging from bankruptcy in September with the help of a group of strategic investors. 

Briggs & Stratton
Home Depot

Briggs & Stratton

One of the nation's most prominent producers of gas engines declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-July. The Wisconsin-based company was in trouble before the pandemic, its sales crunched by profit-hungry big-box retailers and the near-total failure of Sears, which sold Briggs & Stratton-powered Craftsman tools and lawn equipment.

Ann Taylor Loft
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Ascena Retail Group

Best known for mall staples Ann Taylor, Loft, and Lane Bryant, Ascena filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of July. The company planned to close 1,600 of its 2,800 stores, including most of its Justice tween clothing stores and all of its Catherine's plus-size clothing stores. In 2019, Ascena closed all of its Dressbarn stores and has struggled with falling store foot traffic.

Remington
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Remington

Though gun sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic, that didn't save Remington, one of America's oldest gun makers, from declaring bankruptcy in late July. Remington first filed for Chapter 11 in 2018, and talks to strike an ownership deal with the Navajo Nation faltered. The company struggled to keep up with debt payments and faced major lawsuits connected with the shooting of elementary school children in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, in 2012.

California Pizza Kitchen
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California Pizza Kitchen

This casual dining chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late July, when most of its 200 locations were several months behind on rent payments. A staple at malls and shopping centers across the country, California Pizza Kitchen emerged from Chapter 11 at the end of November. It's now owned by many of its former creditors. 

Virgin Atlantic
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Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia

Airlines were one of the first industries to feel the pain of the pandemic. Virgin Atlantic joined the fray in August, filing for Chapter 15 bankruptcy as it worked to firm up a bailout aided by the British government. Its sister airline, Virgin Australia, filed for bankruptcy in April after the Australian government decided against a massive bailout. Delta owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic.

Related: Which Airlines Are Taking the Most COVID-19 Precautions?

Men's Wearhouse
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Tailored Brands

Tailored, which owns Men's Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank, and K&G brands, filed for Chapter 11 in early August. The company, hit hard by a major drop in demand for business attire and formalwear amid the pandemic, had bankruptcy advisers for weeks before the filings. It's also closing up to 500 stores permanently.

stein mart
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Stein Mart

Discounter Stein Mart was in the process of being sold to a private equity firm when the pandemic hit, disrupting what was supposed to be a turnaround plan. The chain sought government aid to stay afloat for some of the year, but filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August citing "significant financial distress" caused by both COVID-19 and customers' changing buying habits. All of its 300 stores have closed.  

Lord & Taylor
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Lord & Taylor

Lord & Taylor, the nation's oldest department store, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August and decided to pull the plug on all its stores, a reversal from a decision to keep at least some locations open. Liquidation sales at all 38 stores officially ended the chain's storied 194-year run. 

Related: 18 Iconic Department Stores We Miss

Century 21
wdstock/istockphoto

Century 21

Iconic New York-area discounter Century 21 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September and closed all of its 13 stores, blaming the collapse on insurers' refusal to pay for "losses it has suffered" related to COVID-19. The company says insurance money helped it survive the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, but insurers have mostly said their policies don't cover pandemic-related losses. 

New York Sports Clubs
Gary L./Yelp

Town Sports International

A parent company of prominent East Coast gyms including New York Sports Club and Town Sports International says COVID-19 closings caused a substantial drop in revenue. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-September and reported that many of its more than 200 locations are still closed. Town Sports' other chains include Washington Sports Club, Philadelphia Sports Club, Boston Sports Club, and Lucille Roberts. 

Sizzler
Sizzler/istockphoto

Sizzler USA

Yes, Sizzler is still around, and the pandemic isn't making it any easier for this throwback of a steakhouse chain to hold on. The company  filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late September, citing a huge decline in dine-in business and trouble negotiating rent relief with its landlords. It has closed six restaurants permanently. There are more than 100 locations, but most are franchise-owned and will be unaffected by the filing.

It'Sugar
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It'Sugar

It's been a sour year for It'Sugar, a candy chain with about 100 locations across the country, many in tourist hot spots such as Las Vegas, Orlando, and Myrtle Beach. The company filed for bankruptcy at the end of September, saying the pandemic had tanked demand and sales. It was also one of many companies that have stopped paying rent, noting that it has received notices of default from the landlords of 49 locations. 

Related: Companies Refusing to Pay Rent as Millions of Americans Face Eviction

Ruby Tuesday
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Ruby Tuesday

Like many casual dining chains, Ruby Tuesday was fighting for survival against fast-casual upstarts long before the pandemic. But COVID-19 made it nearly impossible to stay afloat, and the Tennessee-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October. It is closing 185 restaurants permanently while it restructures, which leaves 236 company-owned locations and an unknown number of franchise-owned restaurants, according to USA Today. 

Studio Movie Grill
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Studio Movie Grill

Dinner and a movie are the classic night out — except, of course, during a global pandemic. Studio Movie Grill, a restaurant and theater chain with 33 locations sprinkled across the country, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October and drained almost all its cash reserves. Although the company was among the fastest-growing in the theater business just two years ago, the pandemic led to a three-month closing, and several locations remain closed.

Rubio's Coastal Grill
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Rubio's Coastal Grill

Even the strong-performing fast-casual restaurant segment has struggled because of the pandemic. Rubio's Coastal Grill, a 170-restaurant chain based in California, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the end of October, saying COVID-19 made bouncing back from already-slumping sales impossible. The company has more than $80 million in debt and has closed more than two dozen restaurants. 

You Don't Mind the Mall
JohnnyGreig/istockphoto

CBL Properties

Many mall-based retailers have gone bankrupt in 2020, so it makes sense that their landlords would start to follow. CBL Properties, one of the nation's most prominent mall owners, filed for Chapter 11 in early November, on the heels of tenants including JCPenney and Ascena Retail Group, owner of Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant. CBL owns more than 100 properties in 26 states, but said it expects malls to continue to operate normally while it restructures. 

Related: 10 Creative Abandoned Mall Makeovers

Friendly's
Friendly's by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

Friendly's

Best known for its tempting menu of Fribble milkshakes and kid-friendly sundaes, Friendly's filed for bankruptcy in early November, its second filing in a decade. The chain of family restaurants last filed in 2011, shrinking from more than 400 restaurants at that time to 130 locations today. The company blamed COVID-19 for crushing its primarily dine-in business, but said most of its restaurants will remain open.

 Norwegian Air
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Norwegian Air

Norwegian Air was already struggling before the pandemic, and several of its subsidiaries had already filed for bankruptcy. But it joined them officially in mid-November, filing for what amounts to a Chapter 11 equivalent in Ireland, and then the same in Norway in December. The low-fare carrier says it will operate normally while trying to restructure, though its routes have been limited by COVID-19.  

Guitar Center
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Guitar Center

This strip-mall staple for musicians of all stripes, the biggest seller of instruments in the United States, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late November after a tumultuous year. Pandemic-related store closings and increasing competition from other online instrument sellers put the chain in a cash crunch, analysts say. While Guitar Center tried to stop the bleeding with online music lessons, that wasn't enough to combat falling sales.

Francesca's
Laura A./Yelp

Francesca's

This apparel chain aimed at young women sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the beginning of December, and has said it will close about 240 of its 700 stores. Like many mall-based retailers, it had already been trying to boost sagging sales before the pandemic forced many of its stores to shut down temporarily, and foot traffic continued to lag even after they reopened.  

Punch Bowl Social
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Punch Bowl Social

This buzzy chain aimed to entertain patrons, not just feed them, with everything from mini golf, bowling, and shuffleboard to accompany a made-from-scratch menu. Unsurprisingly, the "eatertainment" company has struggled since the pandemic pushed dine-in business off a cliff, and it filed for Chapter 11 just a few days before Christmas.