The former leader is working with a private equity firm that previously invested in the barbecue concept. 

Bankrupt Corner Bakery Cafe is up for sale, and former Famous Dave’s CEO Jeff Crivello is showing interest.

The industry veteran is working with Wexford Capital, a former investor of Famous Dave’s, to buy the chain.  

As part of its sales process, Corner Bakery named Corbak Acquisition as its stalking horse bidder. The entity is an extension of Wexford Capital. Court document state, “Mr. Crivello is currently serving as one of the Stalking Horse Bidder’s representatives and assisting it in connection with the proposed Stalking Horse APA.”

Corback Acquisition wants to spend $12 million to acquire Corner Bakery’s assets. 

Corner Bakery filed bankruptcy in February, with roughly 140 stores in 20 states from California to New Jersey. The urban concept suffered declines in earnings and revenue because of office closures due to COVID. A large part of business comes from catering workplaces and serving lunch and breakfast to on-the-go customers. However, AUV was declining before the pandemic. The chain hired a restructuring firm and was eventually sold to Pandya Restaurant Growth Brands in 2020. It’s the same company that bought Boston Market. 

Since that acquisition, core business has remained strong, but Corner Bakery has suffered from inflation, supply chain disruptions, labor challenges, and impatient landlords. A number of unprofitable stores have hurt the company’s bottom line. The restaurant worked with lenders on a payoff plan, but amid those discussions, SSCP Restaurant Investors bought its debt. The group intended to foreclose on Corner Bakery’s assets, and the restaurant filed for bankruptcy in response. 

Crivello apparently had multiple options on how he could get involved with the case. Jay Pandya, who leads Pandya Restaurant Growth Brands, spoke with Crivello about helping with a reorganization plan or settlement with SSCP. On the other side, SSCP talked to him about serving as Corner Bakery’s chief restructuring officer. No agreements were reached on either side. 

Crivello served as CEO of Famous Dave’s for nearly five years, until MTY Food Group bought the chain’s parent company, BBQ Holdings, for $200 million last year. 

Wexford Capital bought 19 percent of Famous Dave’s stock in 2015. Afterward, former CEO Ed Rensi resigned and Wexford co-founder Joseph Jacobs was named chairman. Adam Wright was named CEO, but was replaced by Mike Lister 10 months later. Lister himself only lasted about a year and was followed by Crivello. 

Corback Acquisition’s role as the stalking horse means it sets the low bid. Corner Bakery will explore other qualified bidders to see if a better offer comes about. If a better bid is accepted, Corback would receive a $750,000 breakup fee according to its stalking horse agreement. 

Chain Restaurants, Feature, Finance, Famous Dave's