Orange County Business Journal

Real Mex Files for Bankruptcy

Kari Hamanaka Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cypress-based Mexican restaurant chain operator Real Mex Restaurants Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday.

Real Mex operates a number of restaurant brands, including El Torito, Acapulco and Chevys Fresh Mex, among others.

The chain had assets of $272.2 million and debt totaling about $250 million as of June 26, according to the bankruptcy filing.

The company has been struggling with falling sales in recent years, stemming in part from the rugged economy and cutbacks in consumer spending.

Real Mex rolled out a rebranding effort and new marketing for Chevys earlier this year. It also launched meal and drink promotions at its El Torito restaurants.

Earlier this year, the company missed an interest payment, part of a $130 million bond set to mature in 2013, due July 1.

Real Mex later made the $9.2 million payment within the 30-day grace period, but saw downgrades from New York-based ratings agencies Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Moody's Investors Service Inc.

At the time of the downgrades, both ratings agencies raised the question of a possible bankruptcy or reorganization for Real Mex.