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Pub is the second abrupt closure on Riverdale

Date: 2/14/2012

Feb. 15, 2012

By Debbie Gardner

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Town Sanitarian Kathleen Phelps told Reminder Publications she was conducting a routine inspection at the Friendly's Restaurant on Riverdale Street when the manager told her he'd heard the Piccadilly Pub up the street had closed.

Phelps said she "drove up, found the doors locked and the letter from the corporate offices posted on the window" of the restaurant's main door.

She, like many customers — including those who purchased gift certificates on Jan. 13 as part of WMAS's 50-50 Fridays half-off restaurant gift certificates promotion — were caught by surprise by the closing.

When this reporter visited the Piccadilly Pub property on Feb. 7, she found not only the doors locked, but also the dumpsters and recycling bins had been emptied. The letter on the door apologized to customers for the abrupt closing, thanked them for their patronage and stated the restaurant chain — which operated nine properties in the state — hoped it might "have the chance to serve you again in the future."

The letter also directed customers with concerns to contact the chain's corporate office at 617-720-2100. Repeated calls placed by Reminder Publications were not returned.

Phelps noted that Piccadilly Pub was the second abrupt restaurant closure in West Springfield in recent weeks. Two weeks earlier, she said the Hometown Buffet, located in the Riverdale Shops, closed its doors without notice.

Phelps estimated that between the two restaurant closings, "approximately 50 people" had been left unemployed.

Both restaurant chains had apparently become victims of the sluggish economy. Buffets Inc., the parent company of Hometown Buffet and several other chains, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Jan. 18. As a result of that impending action it shuttered 81 of its 500 locations, including the West Springfield site.

According to information on the corporate website of Elephant & Castle Group Inc. (E & C) — parent company of Piccadilly Pub — the corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on June 28, 2011, citing revenue loss precipitated by the economic downturn resulting in its inability to meet debt obligations.

Under the E & C name, the corporation operated 10 company-owned and one franchised British pub-style restaurants in the U.S. and nine company-owned and one franchised restaurant in Canada.

In November 2011, the Canadian restaurant chain, Original Joe's Acquisition Corp., sought to purchase E & C's assets and its parent company, Frameworks Group of Cos. of Calgary, Alberta, offered $22.75 million for E & C.

U. S. Bankruptcy Judge Henry J. Boroff of the Eastern Massachusetts Division of the court approved the sale of E & C's assets to Original Joe's in an order signed on Jan. 27, 2012.

WMAS General Manger Craig Swimm said the station would make good on Jan. 13 Piccadilly Pub gift certificate purchases by offering customers a gift certificate to another restaurant currently working with the station. Individuals should call the station's main office at 737-1414 for details.

"We are replacing $25 [gift certificates] with $25," Swimm said. "We do have a disclaimer [on the website], but we want to keep good faith in the community."

Swimm noted that in the case of Piccadilly Pub, the closure was both abrupt and very close to the station's last promotional sale with the restaurant.

Information on the Piccadilly Pub's corporate website, , stated, "gift cards currently issued [by the restaurant] are non-refundable. Sorry for any inconvenience at this time."

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