Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Babalu Sold

A federal bankruptcy judge approved the sale of all five Babalu restaurants to Spell Restaurant Group of Memphis Friday.  The parent company of Babalu, Eat Here, Inc., file bankruptcy in August.  Babalu opened its first restaurant in Jackson in 2010, offering Latin-inspired cuisine.  The restaurant quickly become very popular and a fixture on the Jackson foodie scene.




Local restaurateurs Bill Latham and David Roberts formed Eat Here in 2012 and sought to export Babalu's success to other cities.   They opened Babalu restaurants in Atlanta (2), Knoxville, Memphis (2), Chapel Hill, Lexington, and Birmingham.  JJ reported in August:

Eat Here also owned several Five Guys restaurants but sold them in 2015.  The company also owned Table 100 but sold that as well to the original owners, Mr. Latham and Mr. Robert.   The company obtained a $15 million line of credit in 2017 from Origin Bank.  Eat Here also issued unsecured notes to 35 investors for $3 million in 2015.  The notes are due in May 2020 and have a balance of $1.6 million.

Babalu grew too big, too fast, as the "rapid growth strained Eat Here's resources."  Several restaurants started strong but quickly faded soon after opening.   Eat Here signed leases for additional restaurants in Nashville, Charlotte, and Columbus but cancelled the openings.  Thus the company was stuck with expensive lease payments with no offsetting revenue.

The company has over 500 creditors.  Eat Here employes 567 people. Eat Here asked the Court's permission to keep paying the employees through bankruptcy.   Eat Here owes Origin Bank $5.9 million.  The Court approved several motions filed by Eat Here, including one seeking permission to obtain post-petition financing.  The restaurants will keep operating through bankruptcy. 

The remaining Atlanta restaurant closed Monday as it was not a part of the sale.  The purchase price is $3.62 million.  Spell does not assume any liabilities for Eat Here.

Spell operates Brookhaven Bar & Grill (Memphis),  Edward's (Rosemary Beach), La Crema (Rosemary Beach), Grits & Grind (Seacrest Beach), Saltwater Grill (Panama City), La Cocina (Seacrest Beach), and George's (Alys Beach).  

Kingfish note: The Fondren location does very well.  Don't.Screw.It.Up. 




30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Small plates- really small.

Wiseowl said...

good ridance

Anonymous said...

Fun location, meh food, good drinks, terrible service. (The last one also increases the table wait.)

My coworkers can’t be talked into going there. Maybe better mgmt will help.

Anonymous said...

Overrated.

Messick said...

"Babalu grew too big, too fast, as the "rapid growth strained Eat Here's resources." Several restaurants started strong but quickly faded soon after opening."


Anthony Bourdain mentions this problem as a common downfall among over-zealous restaurateurs.

Anonymous said...

The restaurants in Fondren are the types of places you can take your hayseed family from the boonies and they will be impressed.

Those of us that live here understand the service sucks, the food is overrated and over priced. And if you've ever been to an actual big city then even the atmosphere is unimpressive.

Anonymous said...

12:28, where in the world does the tight rolled high water jeans and fake workboot crowd "who lives here" go to eat?

Kingfish said...

I've always had a good meal. Taco Tuesday is solid. The steak on a stick, oops, I meant skewer, is tasty. It started the craze of making guacamole at the table. Never had a bad experience there.

Anonymous said...

I make better guac than they did, my wife even said so. I have to take her word for it, never ate there, everybody at the table thinks they have permission to sample off your plate.

Anonymous said...

Truth, Kingfish.
The rest of you have obviously never had a Babarita!

Kingfish said...

I remember the first two

Anonymous said...

Their tableside guacamole is wonderful. Baba-rita and Taco Tuesday are solid. Love the place.

Anonymous said...

12:36, now THAT’S funny!

Anonymous said...

Umm, 12:42, the "craze" of making guacamole at the table preceded Babalu's by at least two decades: El Chico used to do that way back when. Guess that predated the millenials.

Anonymous said...

Origin Bank has made so many bad loans..are they next to file Chapter 11? $5.9 Million down the drain? What other loans are non-performing? Just asking for a friend.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that while the rest of the world rates this dive in The Fondren as pitiful, at best, Kingfish comes along and says he always enjoyed it. What the hell is "table-side guacamole"? Can I get a serenade of Yellow Rose of Texas? Taco Tuesday my ass.

Anonymous said...

@12:36
Wouldn't you like to know. I won't ruin the authenticity by informing as unfashionably bigoted as yourself.

Anonymous said...

Lucy and Ricky Ricardo owned restaurants here?

Anonymous said...

If you want a good Taco Tuesday, go to Green Ghost. $2 apiece and they're pretty generous with the filling. Doesn't have the atmosphere of Babalu, I'll grant. Still, good food.

I think the County Line location is better than the Fondren one, but usually end up at Fondren because it's closer.

Ophelia said...

The food was okay, the outdoor tables were nice, but it was seriously overpriced. As for the tableside guacamole—always made me uncomfortable, to have to suspend table conversation awkwardly while politely watching something that should have been done back in the kitchen. I feel the same way about cherries Jubilee and bananas Foster. Spare us the theatrics, and just bring the food, please?

Anonymous said...

@ 4PM, what?? How did a comment about hipster dress code jump the shark to bigotry. Whoever responded to your comment is just probably trying to avoid judgmental people like you.

Busboy Back in the Day said...

@6:07 PM - when they make it in front of you at least you know that they didn't spit in it.

You think I'm kidding? I was a busboy in a resort restaurant in the early sixties. The chef was pissed at management and used to spit in the soup.

Anonymous said...

I once complained to a manager about really bad service by our waiter, who then returned and said never to talk about him behind his back in a really threatening manner. It was really creepy and I called Eat Here corporate to report. They never called back and I assumed they didn't care to address serious CS complaints. I haven't been back to Babalu since. It was coming off three occasions of good food but terrible service.

Anonymous said...

Wild Bill’s Bankrupt Grill

Cousin Dackbart Gabbart said...

Oh-I Feel Ya...but can you spare us the random capital letters and misplaced commas? And as an aside, allow me to inform you that it's entirely proper to continue your conversation in the sanctuary as the offertory occurs. Just fold that bill up tightly so nobody notices it's a ONE and not a TWENTY.

Anonymous said...

I am not a bankruptcy expert but what I gleaned from article is they owe the bank over 5 million dollars so they just declare bankruptcy, walk away and continue making money at Table 100? Is that how all of this works?

Anonymous said...

Always sounded like a place Fred Flintsone would frequent.

Unknown said...

Support your local restaurants people. Different strokes for Different folks. Diversity is good and Babalu played a big roll in growing what is now a happening area in Jackson.. Man you people like to hate.!

Anonymous said...

Overall, I like Babalu's. Food was decent to good on each occasion I had it. Service was good, and we always seemed to wind up there during a happy hour or food special, so it was not terribly expensive.

Messick said...

I don't think Babalu owned the establishment...

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