Orange County Business Journal

Real Mex Sale to Creditors Finalized

Kari Hamanaka Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The sale of Cypress-based Real Mex Restaurants Inc. to a group of creditors closed Wednesday, allowing the company to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The Mexican restaurant operator is now owned by a group of noteholders, led by Santa Monica-based investment manager Tennenbaum Capital Partners LLC, JP Morgan Investment Management Inc. in New York and Lake Forest, Ill.-based Z Capital Partners LLC.

Real Mex operates the El Torito, El Torito Grill, Acapulco and Chevys Fresh Mex chains among other brands with 132 company-owned restaurants and 20 franchised locations.

The creditors group, operating as RM Opco LLC, offered $46 million in cash, an $80 million debt-for-equity swap and assumed certain liabilities in its bid for Real Mex. RM Opco received an 85% stake in the company.

Real Mex filed for bankruptcy in October, citing the economic environment along with high debt and rents for its troubles. The company is working on menu changes and other updates at El Torito, Chevys and Acapulco

Separate executives are leading branding initiatives for each of the chains in a more decentralized approach that treats each of their operations as autonomous business units.