Alamo Drafthouse storefront
Rick Kern / Contributor / Getty Images News

Companies That Have Filed for Bankruptcy Since the Pandemic Began — and Which Ones Could Be Next

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Alamo Drafthouse storefront
Rick Kern / Contributor / Getty Images News
Alamo Drafthouse storefront
Rick Kern / Contributor / Getty Images News

Alamo Drafthouse

This notable dine-in movie chain, where fans got to guzzle beer and nosh on burgers while taking in the latest blockbuster, is the latest to buckle under financial woes stemming from the pandemic. Three of Alamo's 40 theaters will shut down as part of its Chapter 11 restructuring, and the new owners say more closures are possible. Competitor Studio Movie Grill also filed for bankruptcy in October 2020, while mega-chain AMC Theatres recently received nearly $1 billion from investors to beat back bankruptcy.


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

Paper Source Storefront
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images CC

Paper Source

The third major stationery chain to declare bankruptcy in a little over a year, Paper Source is filing for Chapter 11 and closing at least 11 of its nearly 160 stores. The company grew rapidly in recent years, but pandemic-related closures kept stores dark last year during big holidays like Easter and Mother's Day. A rival chain, the Paper Store, filed for bankruptcy over the summer, and mall staple Papyrus liquidated and closed all of its stores in early 2020.


Related: 21 Things We Stopped Taking for Granted During the Pandemic

Solstice Sunglasses
K T./Yelp

Solstice Sunglasses

This sunglasses chain with close to 65 stores nationwide saw its retail sales cut in half during the pandemic, leading to a Chapter 11 filing in mid-February. The company specializes in designer brands like Gucci, Prada, and Versace. It's unclear whether any stores will close as part of the reorganization. 


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Belk
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Belk

One of the South's most prominent department-store chains, Belk is joining several of its struggling competitors with a Chapter 11 filing. The company plans to shed $450 million in debt and says it will keep stores open while it restructures. It cut several corporate jobs in 2020, after temporary pandemic-related closings affected at least half of its roughly 300 locations.


Related: 50 Events That Made Retail History Before the Pandemic

Cici's
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Cici's

Germophobes steered clear of buffets even before the pandemic, making the struggles of restaurants such as Cici's one of the least surprising impacts of COVID-19. The all-you-can-eat pizza chain, which has nearly 320 locations across the country, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of January and said the company will be sold to its main creditor, D&G Investors. 


Related: 13 Restaurant Chains We Miss

L'Occitane
Sundry Photography/istockphoto

L'Occitane

This high-end beauty brand's U.S. division filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of January, citing crushing rent obligations in light of COVID-19's drag on sales. The chain has 166 stores across the country and says it will close 23 of the least profitable locations.

Christopher & Banks
Jed M./Yelp

Christopher & Banks

This women's clothing chain filed for bankruptcy in mid-January, saying it's likely to close "a significant portion, if not all" of its 449 stores, most of which are in malls across the country. Executives said COVID-19 is to blame for a huge drop in sales. The company is looking to sell its e-commerce business, but in-store liquidation sales are likely to begin soon.


Related: How to Shop Going-Out-of-Business Sales

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. 


Francesca's
Laura A./Yelp

Francesca's

This apparel chain aimed at young women sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2020, 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.



Guitar Center
NoDerog/istockphoto

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 2020 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.


Related: Where to Find Online Classes for Kids Home From School

 Norwegian Air
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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 November 2020, 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.


Related: Beloved Restaurants and Bars That Closed Permanently Amid the Pandemic

You Don't Mind the Mall
JohnnyGreig/istockphoto

CBL Properties

Many mall-based retailers went 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

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 in October 2020, 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. 

Studio Movie Grill
James H./Yelp

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 2020 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.

Ruby Tuesday
jetcityimage/istockphoto

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 in October 2020. It recently finished restructuring and exited bankruptcy with 209 locations remaining, a significant drop from the 451 restaurants it had at the end of 2019.

It'Sugar
Will Q./Yelp
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 September 2020, 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.

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 September 2020 and reported that many of its more than 200 locations were still closed. Town Sports' other chains include Washington Sports Club, Philadelphia Sports Club, Boston Sports Club, and Lucille Roberts. 


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

Century 21
wdstock/istockphoto

Century 21

Iconic New York-area discounter Century 21 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2020 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. Still, a comeback may be in the cards: A new store is opening in South Korea, and the chain says it is planning to re-open in the U.S. soon.

Lord & Taylor
DW labs Incorporated/shutterstock

Lord & Taylor

Lord & Taylor, the nation's oldest department store, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2020 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

stein mart
Ron L./Yelp

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, but filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2020 citing "significant financial distress" caused by both COVID-19 and customers' changing buying habits. All of its 300 stores have closed.  

Virgin Atlantic
Boarding1Now/istockphoto

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 2020, filing for Chapter 15 bankruptcy as it worked to firm up a bailout aided by the British government. Its sister airline, Virgin Australia, had already 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 August 2020. 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.

California Pizza Kitchen
Brett J./Yelp

California Pizza Kitchen

This casual dining chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2020, 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. 

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 July 2020. 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.

Ann Taylor Loft
Rob Crandall/shutterstock
Briggs & Stratton
Home Depot

Briggs & Stratton

One of the nation's most prominent producers of gas engines declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2020. 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.

Paper Store
Mariejoy T./Yelp

Paper Store

This Northeastern chain selling stationery, ornaments, and other giftable items filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2020, 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. 

New York & Company
Andrea S./Yelp

New York & Co.

RTW Retailwinds, the parent company of women's fashion retailer New York & Co., filed for bankruptcy in July 2020 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. 

Muji
LewisTsePuiLung/istockphoto

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 2020.

Brooks Brothers
tupungato/istockphoto

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 2020 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.

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 July 2020 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 but cancel its in-store cooking classes, a cornerstone of the brand.

Lucky Brand
Goran Bogicevic/shutterstock

Lucky Brand

Lucky Brand, known for its denim and bohemian-inspired apparel, filed for bankruptcy in July 2020. 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.

Aeromexico Check In Counter
Solange_Z/istockphoto

Aeromexico

Mexican airline Aeromexico announced in July 2020 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.

 

Wendy's
dcwcreations/shutterstock

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 in July, and a potential sale of its restaurants to Flynn Restaurant Group is tied up in court

Cirque du Soleil
William B. Plowman / Stringer / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images North America / Getty Images CC

Cirque du Soleil

The legendary producer of mind-bending acrobatics shows in Las Vegas and elsewhere announced in June 2020 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.

Chuck E. Cheese's
SweetBabeeJay/istockphoto

Chuck E. Cheese

The parent company of this iconic kids' pizza chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2020 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 got the go-ahead to exit bankruptcy near the end of the year, its debt slashed by nearly a half-billion. 


Related: 12 Places That Kids Love But Parents Hate

In Trouble: GNC
wdstock/istockphoto

GNC

The inescapable vitamin retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2020, blaming a pandemic-related sales slump and mounting debt, and saying it could close more than 1,200 of its 7,300 stores. The company was bought by its largest shareholder, Chinese company Harbin Pharmaceutical Group, in September. 

24 Hour Fitness
sanfel/istockphoto

24 Hour Fitness

The national fitness chain joined Gold's Gym in pandemic-related bankruptcy with a Chapter 11 filing in June 2020. 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. 

Tuesday Morning
G C./Yelp

Tuesday Morning

This Dallas-based discount home-goods chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2020, 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.

LATAM Airlines
Boarding1Now/istockphoto

LATAM Airlines

Latin America's largest carrier filed for Chapter 11 protection in May 2020. Unlike chief competitor Avianca, it was on solid financial footing before most flights were grounded, according to Reuters.

Hertz
tupungato/istockphoto

Hertz

The rental-car behemoth filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2020, 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. 

JCPenney
photobyphm/istockphoto
Pier 1 Imports
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Souplantation
LPETTET/istockphoto

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 May 2020, saying federal regulations forbidding self-service in restaurants made salvaging the business too difficult.

J. Crew
tupungato/istockphoto

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 for Chapter 11 protection in May 2020, 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. 

Gold's Gym
David Tran/istockphoto
Neiman Marcus
Ken Wolter/shutterstock

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 May 2020 and stayed open during reorganization, emerging from bankruptcy in September with a debt load reduced by a whopping $4 billion.  

Avianca
Joa_Souza/istockphoto

Avianca

This prominent Latin American airline filed for Chapter 11 protection in May 2020, 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.

Goody's Store
Wikimedia Commons

Stage Stores

This parent company of well-known chains including Bealls, Goody's, and Palais Royal sought Chapter 11 protection in May 2020, a move being discussed before the pandemic. Although it initially sought a buyer, Stage was eventually forced to liquidate its more than 700 stores.


Editors' Note: A previous version of this story included an image of a store owned by Florida-based Bealls Inc., which is not affiliated with Stage Stores. We regret the error.

Hits Keep Coming
helen89/istockphoto

Aldo

This footwear retailer announced in May 2020 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 "put too much pressure on our business and our cash flows."


Related: 25 Canadian Stores That Americans Love

Frontier Communications
AlbertPego/istockphoto

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 2020, admitting it had been slow to upgrade its network, especially as customers expect faster internet speeds. The company pledged to maintain service while restructuring.

SpeedCast International
baona/istockphoto

SpeedCast International

Satellite communications company SpeedCast International, the company likely responsible for the internet connection on your last cruise, filed for bankruptcy in April 2020  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'

True Religion
designs by Jack/shutterstock

True Religion

Denim giant True Religion filed for bankruptcy in April 2020, 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.

Dean & DeLuca
wdstock/istockphoto

Dean & DeLuca

Long a shell of its former self, gourmet grocer Dean & DeLuca filed for bankruptcy at the end of March 2020. 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.

dave & Buster's
Tim Gray/istockphoto

In Trouble: Dave & Buster's

Considering Dave & Buster's is more or less a Chuck E. Cheese for adults, it's no surprise the chain is struggling. The company has warned that bankruptcy is inevitable if it can't reach a deal with its lenders and announced it would be laying off 1,300 workers. The company has been forced to shut down multiplayer games and reconfigure its arcades to allow for social distancing, and revenue was down 85% during the second quarter of 2020.

Checkers/Rally's
jetcityimage/istockphoto
 J.Jill
J.Jill

In Trouble: J.Jill

Like all too many mall-based retailers, J.Jill has woes that extend far beyond COVID-19. The women's apparel chain saw big losses in 2019 and is now struggling to pay its creditors after pandemic-related closures ate further into profits.

Orca whale
StevepUK/istockphoto

In Trouble: SeaWorld

Like many theme parks, SeaWorld reopened, but there are rumblings that bankruptcy could be in the cards for the iconic Orlando, Florida-based company. Experts say SeaWorld has missed payments on major construction projects, and others point out that it isn't as diversified as Disney or Universal, deepening the impact of recent shutdowns.

Potbelly
RiverNorthPhotography/istockphoto

In Trouble: Potbelly Sandwich Shop

This fast-casual sandwich chain may be exploring ways to restructure in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It announced in November 2020 that up to 30 locations would be closing, and could even be facing eviction from its Chicago headquarters.

AMC Theatres
MarkHatfield/istockphoto

In Trouble: AMC Theatres

AMC has acknowledged it "cannot be certain" that it will be able to stay afloat, especially with limited new movie releases and the possibility of more pandemic-related closings. Deals with lenders have made the financial dangers to the nation's largest movie theater chain less immediate, though.

Sears Price-Match Policy
jetcityimage/istockphoto

In Trouble: Sears and Kmart

Sears barely survived bankruptcy in 2018, so analysts are skeptical it could emerge from a second round. The once-giant retailer and its sister chain Kmart have shrunk considerably over the past several years. Forbes reports that after another quiet round of store closures, the iconic retailer is down to just over 30 stores across the country and about 30 stores for Kmart. 


Related: 25 Must-Haves to Buy at Sears Before It’s Gone for Good

112515 stores closed on thanksgiving slide 7 fs
Susan Montgomery/shutterstock

In Trouble: GameStop

Before an influx of small investors caused the retailer's stock to spike in early 2021, GameStop had been on a steady decline for seven years as gamers continued to turn to game downloads that don't require a store visit. In March 2020, the company announced it would be closing 300 stores permanently; it closed a similar number in 2019.

Rite Aid
Andrei Stanescu/istockphoto

In Trouble: Rite Aid

Rite Aid continues to face steep competition from the likes of CVS and Walgreens, as well as big-box stores like Target and Walmart. It also has billions in debt and little ability to diversify, analysts say.

Party City
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In Trouble: Party City

Already struggling after a helium shortage and poor Halloween sales, Party City is in even deeper trouble because of the pandemic and social-distancing guidelines that make most parties a no-go. The company has reportedly hired a firm to help it plan a potential restructuring plan.

Forever 21
zodebala/istockphoto

In Trouble: Forever 21

Forever 21 already filed for bankruptcy in 2019 and was acquired in 2020. While store closings were already in the mix, the pandemic makes the company's fragile reorganization especially fraught.

In Trouble: L Brands
brightstorm/istockphoto
Steak 'n Shake
Sean Pavone/shutterstock

In Trouble: Steak 'n Shake

Steak 'n Shake has narrowly avoided bankruptcy for now, but its recovery hinges on a big change in strategy, according to Restaurant Business: Shifting remaining company-operated restaurants to a franchise model, and having customers place orders through self-service kiosks instead of relying on waitstaff.