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Some operators won’t even say the word “bankruptcy.” Take Adam Zeitsiff, CEO of Gold’s Gym when it filed for Chapter 11 in May 2020. "I don’t use the B-word," he said at the time. But can bankruptcy be a good thing? These five franchise operators used the process to their advantage.

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Spencer Rubin taught himself to cook by watching the Food Network and met his goal—to launch a restaurant by his 25th birthday—by opening Melt Shop when he turned, you guessed it, 25. Meet Aurify, started by two Five Guys franchisees, and its first and most promising original concept.

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Bill Kane wasn't afraid to warn bidders in an Erie, Pennsylvania, bankruptcy court in January that he was taking home the prize. Like Kane, they wanted the franchise rights for 28 Perkins restaurants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. “I turned around and said, ‘You might as well leave now because you're not going to outbid me.' I am a very substantial person. I stand 6-foot-10 and weigh 420 pounds, and I'm missing a leg. When I set my mind to doing something, I do it!”