Centre Lane Plans Investment to Grow Saladworks
Saladworks' new owner, Centre Lane Partners, plans to invest "substantial capital" to accelerate the company's growth nationwide, after buying the fresh-tossed salad restaurant chain that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in February. The transaction, if closed, marks the resolution of a mighty battle between equity owners.
Saladworks calls itself the first to create the fresh-tossed salad restaurant concept, in 1986. “It’s clear to us that Centre Lane recognizes both the current value of our brand and also has the vision to imagine its future potential,” said Paul Steck, Saladworks president and CEO. Steck, who was president, adds the CEO title with this transaction, replacing John Scardapane, who owned 70 percent of the company.
There are 108 Saladworks restaurant locations in 15 U.S. states, plus Canada, Dubai and Singapore, and they remained open throughout the reorganization, according to the company.
Saladworks sought bankruptcy protection and a new buyer to extricate itself from lawsuits involving its owners, including majority owner Scardapane and 30 percent shareholder Vernon Hill, who founded Commerce Bancorp.
Hill bought his shares in 2008, and then in 2013 resigned from Saladworks’ board and demanded the company buy back his shares for $7.8 million. Saladworks also owed Metro Bank $2.5 million, court documents said, and the bank sued in December 2014.
In an affidavit filed with the court at the time, Steck said bankruptcy protection would let the company “focus on its restructuring free from the value-destructive, distracting litigation in Pennsylvania and Delaware.”
In April, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein approved Saladworks’ selection of Centre Lane as a bidder, and a Saladworks attorney said the $16.9 million purchase price will “easily satisfy all known and valid claims.”