The sale of Jose Garces’ restaurant group to 3BM1, a partnership between Louisiana-based Ballard Brands and Philly-based investor David Maser, was approved in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Camden on Tuesday, which means 3BM1 now owns almost all of the Iron Chef’s restaurants, as well as the events division of his company. Garces will stay on in the role of chief culinary officer. The portfolio was purchased for $8 million in cash and assumed liabilities.
As part of the process, two Garces restaurants in Philadelphia are closing right away. 24 at 24th and Walnut will stop serving at the end of day on Saturday, July 14. Garces Trading Company at 1111 Locust will shutter after brunch on Sunday, July 15. According to a statement, employees at both will be offered jobs at the company’s other Philly restaurants, which include Amada, Tinto, Village Whiskey, the Olde Bar, JG Domestic, and Volvér.
3BM1 has also taken over the management contracts for Garces’ casino-hotel restaurants in Atlantic City: Olon and Okatshe in the Tropicana and the just-opened Amada and Distrito in Ocean Resort Casino. The company also now controls the management contracts for CHUBB Conference Center in Lafayette Hill and Ortzi in New York City.
Distrito in University City and Buena Onda in the Fairmount/Art Museum neighborhood are not part of the bankruptcy or the sale. The chef recently closed the Distrito in the Moorestown Mall in New Jersey and Amada in New York.
There are 750 people working for the Garces Group. “Under the agreement, the intention is to offer employment to most, if not all,” reads the statement.
Ballard Brands, founded by brothers Paul, Scott, and Steve Ballard, owns, operates, and manages eateries in 28 states and 3 countries.
Garces has opened more than 20 restaurants, with most in Philly — his first was the groundbreaking Amada in Old City, opened in 2005.
More recently, facing financial woes, the chef sought to sell his restaurant group.
In an earlier hearing in bankruptcy court, an investment banker involved with the attempted sale testified that Ballard Brands originally offered $14 million for Garces’ restaurant portfolio, but investors would not agree to the deal, leading Garces to file for bankruptcy protection. Investors’ attempts to block the bankruptcy were not successful.