PITTSBURGH — The Perkins restaurant in Vernon Township is among 16 locations getting new ownership as a federal bankruptcy judge has approved sales to three different owners in deals totaling $720,000.

At a hearing Thursday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh, 5171 Campbells Land Co. (CLC) received approval to sell 16 of its Perkins franchise locations, including the Meadville area location. The franchised sites sold were in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.

Approval was needed from bankruptcy court as CLC filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection in July to reorganize its debts. Federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy rules prohibit legal actions by, for or against a corporation unless approved by a federal bankruptcy judge.

The Meadville Tribune was the only media to attend Thursday’s hearing in which Chief Judge Carlota Böhm approved the three separate sales agreements.

The largest sale was 13 Perkins locations, including Vernon Township, sold to Phoenix Management Systems LLC of Bloomsburg for $510,000 with those sites to remain Perkins franchise locations.

There also were two other separate sales — the Greenville and New Castle locations to Paula Webster for a total $160,000; and the Ashtabula, Ohio, location to Rebecca Rogers for $50,000. The Greenville, New Castle and Ashtabula sites cannot be operated as Perkins franchises under the sales agreements.

Another 12 Perkins locations operated by CLC have closed but could be sold in separate actions by CLC if bankruptcy court approves. The 12 locations shuttered include Titusville, Hermitage, Grove City and the west side of Erie in Pennsylvania; and Conneaut, Ohio.

"We're happy with the sale to Phoenix because it will preserve an estimated 600 to 800 jobs" among the 13 restaurants, Ryan Cooney, attorney for CLC, told the Tribune following the sales.

Phoenix Management Systems LLC is a separate limited liability corporation formed by JDK Management Co. of Bloomsburg to purchase the 13 Perkins locations. According to JDK Management Co'.s website, the firm has 40 other Perkins locations with 26 in central and eastern Pennsylvania, eight in Ohio, four in Florida and two in West Virginia, according to its website.

Tribune messages left for Russell Berner, JDK's vice president of restaurant operations, weren't immediately returned Thursday.

In addition to restaurants, JDK Management Co. owns and operates seven hotels in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; does senior living management and consulting with 34 for-profit and nonprofit nursing facilities, continuing care retirement communities and personal care homes; and has equipment and services businesses for hospitals, skilled nursing centers, personal care homes, and Veterans Administration facilities in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and West Virginia.

In January 2018, CLC bought 28 Perkins restaurants in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York for $7.8 million from Unique Ventures Group LLC of Meadville in a bankruptcy court proceeding in U.S. Court in Erie. At the time of that purchase, CLC pledged to invest $12 million in renovating and upgrading the outlets.

CLC found itself embroiled this June in a $2.1 million breach of contract suit with Perkins & Marie Callender's LLC (PMC) of Memphis, Tenn., Perkins' corporate parent, before CLC filed for bankruptcy in July.

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court stipulation and consent order between CLC and PMC went into effect Aug. 6 requiring some CLC restaurants to remove the Perkins name and all Perkins signs and identification as CLC tried to find a buyer and PMC sought other operators for any or all of CLC’s locations.

Under a revised consent agreement and order between CLC and PMC approved Thursday in bankruptcy court, the Ashtabula, Greenville and New Castle restaurants CLC sold can't be operated as Perkins. That approved revised consent agreement and order also requires the 12 other Perkins locations not sold Thursday to cease operations.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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