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Midwest Beer Bar Chain Hopcat Files for Bankruptcy Protection as Rent Bills Pile Up

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Hopcat says it’s behind on payments to all of its landlords

Customers gather inside the dining room at Hopcat Detroit.
Hopcat in Detroit on opening day in 2014.
Stock Detroit

A week after confirming it had been evicted from its Royal Oak location, Michigan bar chain Hopcat has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the Detroit Free Press reports.

In statements to the House Regulatory Reform Committee on Wednesday, Mark Sellers, the founder of parent company BarFly Ventures, stated that Hopcat has fallen behind on rent payments with all of its landlords and is “barely able to keep the lights on.” Sellers further predicted “a giant wave of bankruptcies coming very, very soon.”

The Chapter 11 filing will allow Hopcat to financially restructure its business and come up with a plan to theoretically stay open. The bankruptcy filings list locations in Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Florida, and Illinois. The filing also lists between $10 million and $50 million in liabilities and between 100,000 and 500,000 in assets.

Hopcat expanded aggressively since 2015, when the company signed a $25 million deal with an outside investor. The company planned to open 30 new gastropubs at a rate of three a year and expanded its reach beyond Michigan. However, recently the restaurant group appeared to be contracting. Hopcat closed a location in Chicago last year, shut down a location in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, and permanently closed its St. Louis, Missouri location on March 16 after two years of business.

Despite the restructuring, Hopcat is expected to reopen restaurants in Michigan on Saturday, June 13 now that the state’s stay-at-home order has been lifted. Dining rooms are legally allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity and six feet of distance between groups as of Monday, June 8 across the state.

Hopcat is far from the only restaurant to face financial hardship due to the pandemic. Eater has confirmed at least eight permanent southeast Michigan restaurant and bar closures since the pandemic hit the region in March and more are likely on the way. Many business owners fear that reopening at 50 percent capacity won’t be financially feasible given the thin margins of the food and beverage industry, not to mention health and safety concerns.

Eater is tracking the impact of the novel coronavirus on the local food industry. Have a story to share? Reach out at detroit@eater.com.

HopCat Restaurant Parent Company Files for Bankruptcy Protection [Freep]
Hopcat Permanently Closes Its Royal Oak Craft Beer Bar [ED]
How Coronavirus Is Impacting the Detroit Food and Beverage Industry [ED]

HopCat

208 West 5th Street, , MI 48067 (248) 556-2202 Visit Website

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