More than 40 potential bidders have expressed interest in buying the Upper Crust pizza business, according to Mark DeGiacomo, the trustee overseeing the Boston-based restaurant chain’s bankruptcy proceedings.
The trustee plans to auction off leases for all 10 shuttered Upper Crust stores that are part of the bankruptcy, as well as related assets at each location. Details of the auction are still being worked out, but DeGiacomo expects to file a motion to sell early next week.
Last week, most Upper Crust restaurants were forced to close and lay off 140 workers because the gourmet pizza company had just four days of supplies and only $14,000 in cash after its executives paid themselves a month’s salary in advance.
Founder Jordan Tobins, who was placed on leave by his Upper Crust co-owners this year after they accused him of misusing company funds, has said he is interested in buying back the pizza chain with new partners, according to his lawyer. Tobins is currently operating two Upper Crust locations — in Beacon Hill and Brookline — that are not part of the bankruptcy proceedings.
Shannon Liss-Riordan, an attorney who represents Upper Crust workers who filed a class-action suit against the chain over its labor practices, said she is in discussions with potential investors who are considering bidding for the company so it can become a worker-owned business, or a operate as nonprofit.
Upper Crust, founded in Beacon Hill in 2001, filed for bankruptcy protection in October after defaulting on its loan. In court papers, the company said it owes at least $3.4 million to creditors, and the US Department of Labor said the business owes another $850,000 in back wages and damages for violating minimum wage and overtime laws.
In addition to the Beacon Hill and Brookline stores, four independently owned Upper Crust restaurants are still open. They are located in Newburyport, Plymouth, West Roxbury, and Portsmouth, N.H.