This Beloved Coffee Chain Just Announced It's Filed Bankruptcy

Brooklyn Roasting Company has filed for bankruptcy, as COVID claims another company.

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The latest business casualty of the coronavirus pandemic is one of best quality coffee chains in the country. On Oct. 21, Brooklyn Roasting Company announced that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protectionAM New York reports. Read on to learn more, and for another business that's closing up shop, check out This Popular Gym Is Closing All of Its Locations.

"Like many other businesses at this point, we definitely wound up in the hospital, but we are walking out and not headed towards the cemetery," founder Jim Munson said in a statement. "New York City needs a great local Brooklyn Roasting Company and we have every intention of fulfilling that potential."

While two of the company's locations that closed due to the pandemic will not reopen (at 25 Jay Street in Dumbo and 50 W. 23rd Street in Manhattan), the following locations remain in Brooklyn: 200 Flushing Avenue, Building 92, 45 Washington Street, and a pop up shop in Williamsburg inside Brooklyn Denim Co. (338 Wythe Avenue).

Brooklyn Roasting Company was first founded by Munson, a former partner in The Brooklyn Brewery, in 2009. The company eventually expanded to seven locations, as well as merchandise and a coffee subscription service. Four employees were trained up as "Q Graders," the coffee industry's equivalent of being a master sommelier (for reference, there are only 4,000 Q Graders in the entire global coffee industry). They would spend weeks tasting more than 130 coffees before selecting the six best varieties for the company.

A Forbes profile in 2019 detailed Munson's mission statement for the Brooklyn Roasting Company: "That the outline of our logo—like the outline of Brooklyn—never changes, but what's inside—the character of our coffees and the character of the people that work here—always changes."

According to the bankruptcy filing, the company's problems predated the onset of the COVID pandemic. Discussions had taken place in 2018 for it to be bought by an investment group for $22 million, but following the acquisition of new real estate and staff at the investors' behest, the deal fell through. By the start of 2019, Brooklyn Roasting Company's "financial condition was poor," and revenues declined for the first time to $9.7 million.

Just as the company stabilized and revenues climbed to $10.3 million, the pandemic started, taking out half the company's regular sales and also crippling its wholesale business. Despite receiving a federal stimulus loan of $727,000, the money ran out in August, hence the recent bankruptcy filing.

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to accurately state that Brooklyn Roasting Company is closing two of its locations. It previously incorrectly reported that the company was closing all coffee shops.

Read on for more beloved restaurants that closed their brick-and-mortar locations this year, and if you're a java fiend, you'll enjoy these 30 Incredible Health Benefits Coming From Your Cup of Coffee.

Maison Kayser

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Another New York mainstay of the last decade, French cafe Maison Kayser declared bankruptcy in September. All 16 locations of the cafe, which originally opened up in Paris in 1996 and expanded to 22 countries all over the world, have closed. And for another New York institution that's going away, check out This Beloved Department Store Just Announced It's Closing All Locations.

Specialty's Café & Bakery

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If you're a resident of California, Washington, or Illinois, you probably have a special place in your heart for Specialty's, a soup, salad, cookie, and sandwich chain that had more than 50 locations at the start of 2020. But after the lockdowns, the company announced in May via its website, "Specialty's Café & Bakery is closing after 33 years of business. Current market conditions attributed to COVID-19 and shelter-in-place policies have decimated company revenues. … We sincerely thank you for your business and support over the years." And for another regional store we may have to say goodbye to, check out This 132-Year-Old Beloved Department Store Could Be Doomed.

Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes

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You may have heard—or guessed—that buffets aren't exactly a safe eating outing in the age of coronavirus. So it's probably not a surprise that all 97 of these buffet restaurants—which were called Souplantation in Southern California and Sweet Tomatoes in other parts of the U.S.—were forced to shut down. The chain's parent company, Garden Fresh Restaurants, filed for bankruptcy in mid-May and we said goodbye to unlimited soup and salad options. And for more up-to-date information on which companies COVID has claimed, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Cheeseburger in Paradise

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In 2002, musician Jimmy Buffet helped launch this kitschy, island-inspired burger chain, named after his hit 1978 song. At its height in 2006, Cheeseburger in Paradise had 38 locations across 17 states, but by 2012, it was down to just 23. Its parent company, Luby's Inc., suffered some major financial setbacks both prior to and during the pandemic, forcing the company to go out of business and sell off its assets, including the Cheeseburger in Paradises left standing.

However, if you're a resident of Hawaii, you're in luck. While the website reads, "All of our restaurant locations are now permanently closed," the fine print says, "This statement does not apply to the Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant in Hawaii, which is a separately owned location." Fingers crossed! Want more motivation to visit those islands? You'll be interested to see The Only 2 States Where COVID Cases Are Going Down.

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John Quinn
John Quinn is a London-based writer and editor who specializes in lifestyle topics. Read more
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