Pizza Chain Bertucci's Is Said to Be Preparing Bankruptcy Filing

(Bloomberg) -- Bertucci’s Inc., an Italian-restaurant chain known for its brick-oven pizza, is making preparations for a bankruptcy filing, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is lining up a buyer who would take control of the business after the filing, said one of the people, who declined to be identified because the process isn’t public. The move could come as soon as next week, according to the people.

Bertucci’s woes are part of a broader downturn for midpriced, sit-down restaurant chains. They’ve struggled for years to compete with faster, more modern places where customers don’t have to leave tips. Sales at the top 500 U.S. sit-down restaurant chains rose just 1 percent last year, compared with 3.5 percent growth for the industry, according to data from Technomic.

Bertucci’s has been trying to lure diners with its new Express Lunch, which promises to bring orders within 15 minutes. Chief Executive Officer Brian Wright, who took the helm in 2016, started the program to combat rising competition from fast-casual chains like Panera Bread.

Representatives from the company didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The Northborough, Massachusetts-based chain operates about 80 restaurants in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. Sales fell 2.7 percent last year to $183 million, according to Technomic. The chain opened its first location in Somerville, Massachusetts, in 1981.

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