Photo courtesy of Logan’s Roadhouse
For a good chunk of his 25-plus years in the restaurant business, Jim Mazany has been the handyman who’s dispatched to get a casual chain humming again. He did it with Joe’s Crab Shack and a sizeable piece of TGI Friday’s. Maybe that’s why he sizes up his new and likely stiffest challenge, restoking the fire of Logan’s Steakhouse and Old Chicago Pizza & Taphouse, with the verbal equivalent of a shrug.
Mazany has just been named CEO of SPB Hospitality, the investment company that bought Logan’s Roadhouse and Old Chicago out of bankruptcy in late spring. The brands were among the earliest high-profile victims of the pandemic, a result of operating under what the bankruptcy court overseeing the concepts at the time might have termed pre-existing conditions. Not long after COVID-19 arrived on the coasts, SPB’s predecessor company announced that it would “mothball” both chains and their sister brewpub concepts, some 261 restaurants in all at the time, because it had no cash or access to liquidity.
The blackeye deepened when reports surfaced of employees learning of the shutdowns from the news coverage that followed. A mother reached out to Restaurant Business to verify that her son was out of a job, out of a paycheck and even out of a contact person at that predecessor company, CraftWorks Holdings. It was not a Churchill-like moment of leadership. And it looked even worse when the company alerted the furloughed employees that they had been fired and their benefits had been stopped.
To make matters worse, the CEO and CFO of CraftWorks forwarded $7 million in collected sales taxes to state collectors as usual before April 1, as if the world hadn’t been turned upside down and tax moratoriums proposed. When the bankruptcy court discovered that