Le Pain Quotidien freed from 59 leases in bankruptcy

New owner will reopen 35 of the eatery’s 94 locations

A judge allowed Le Pain Quotidien to be released from 59 of its leases. (Getty, iStock)
A judge allowed Le Pain Quotidien to be released from 59 of its leases. (Getty, iStock)

Upscale bakery chain Le Pain Quotidien will be allowed to break 59 of its leases, in a decision the judge acknowledged is “unusual.”

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which allowed it to pare down debt and complete a $3 million sale to Aurify Brands pending court approval, Bloomberg reported.

“The relief requested is unusual, but these are unusual times,” U.S. bankruptcy Judge John Dorsey said of Le Pain Quotidien’s request for immediate freedom from its leases.

Aurify plans to reopen 35 of the Belgian brand’s 94 stores in the U.S., which employ about 1,000 workers. The locations have been closed since state and local governments issued shutdown orders at the beginning of the pandemic.

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The popular chain was founded in 1990 and opened its first U.S. eatery in 1997. CEO Doug Saltzman, who joined Le Pain Quotidien in 2016 after 14 years at Starbucks, bought an Upper West Side pre-war duplex for $2.8 million the following year.

In deciding which of its leases to renegotiate, Aurify focused on underperforming stores and “assessed the impact of operating with a reduced portfolio of restaurant locations,” according to court filings, Bloomberg reported.

The buyer may also seek to renegotiate additional leases, an attorney for Aurify said in a court filing. [Bloomberg] — Georgia Kromrei