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July 10, 2018

Garces Group officially acquired in $8 million deal

Business Jose Garces
jose garces David M. Warren/Philadelphia Inquirer; MCT; Sipa USA

Chef Jose Garces, from left, offers knife skill tips to future culinary students Juventino Martinez, Javier Aguilar and Jeronimo Cabrera as they slice red onions at the new Culinary Literacy Center at the Free Library of Philadelphia, June 2, 2014.

In what hopefully marks an end to Jose Garces' financial woes, Ballard Brands, along with local investor David Maser, have been officially approved to purchase the chef's legacy for $8 million in cash and assumed liabilities in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Camden on Tuesday. 

Garces will remain on as chief culinary officer and the operation will stay based in Philadelphia, according to a statement from the company.

Garces had filed for bankruptcy in early May, ending several years of financial troubles for the restaurant group. The problems began in 2014 with the closure of the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, which had four Garces restaurants inside, grew as Garces was sued by suppliers and investors, and finally culminated with the bankruptcy filing.

The newly restructured Garces Group will retain Amada, Tinto, Village Whiskey, The Olde Bar, JG Domestic, Volvér and Garces Events. It will also control management contracts — including menu concepts and hospitality training — for Olón and Okatshe in the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City; Amada and Distrito in Ocean Resort and Casino in Atlantic City (formerly the Revel); CHUBB Conference Center in Lafayette Hill; and Ortzi in New York City.

Garces' Italian restaurant 24 near Rittenhouse Square will end service on July 14. Garces Trading Company, which was not part of the sale, will close after brunch service on July 15. All employees will be offered positions at other Garces restaurants, the announcement said.

The company also said "most, if not all" of the Garces Group's 750 employees will be offered employment under the new agreement.

Customers can expect no major changes at open restaurants or at catered events, the statement said.

“This is a new beginning for our company,” Garces said. “This Ballard team has been with us every step of this process, as true partners and we can now focus on the future together. I am looking forward to working with the team to identify new concepts that will entice our customers and attract new ones, spending more time our restaurants. The experience of a Garces restaurant or catered events will not change, nor will the quality. In fact, things are going to keep getting better.”

Ballard Brands is headquartered in Covington, Louisiana, where it owns the PJ's Coffee franchise and other restaurants.

Garces still faces pending litigation from two groups of investors.