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Brigham’s chain owner vows to try to save jobs

By Megan Woolhouse
Globe Staff / November 21, 2009

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Luke T. Cooper, managing director of the Baltimore equity firm that owns more than a dozen Brigham’s restaurants, issued a statement last night saying the chain plans to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but he will “attempt to keep the small number of profitable restaurants in the chain open to preserve as many jobs as possible.’’

As of press time, no filing was publicly available through the federal court system. Cooper did not return a phone call seeking comment. It’s unclear how Cooper plans to keep some restaurants open; a Chapter 7 filing means a company is going out of business and liquidates assets to pay creditors.

Cooper purchased the 95-year-old New England institution 18 months ago but said in last night’s statement the chain had “significant internal issues’’ that contributed to its “lackluster financial performance in recent years.’’ He also said the recession had a “devastating impact’’ on business.

Cooper’s company, Deal Metrics LLC, owns and manages 13 Brigham’s restaurants. Fourteen other Brigham’s locations that are independently operated by licensees will remain in business. Brigham’s ice cream, manufactured by HP Hood, will also remain in production.

“Our hope is that the bankruptcy filing will allow us to preserve and retain up to 50 percent’’ of the Brigham’s restaurant workforce, Cooper said in his statement. In an interview earlier this week, Cooper said 200 people would lose their jobs because of closings.