Happy Joe’s Pizza Chain Is Filing For Bankruptcy And Closing Places

Restaurants continue to feel the economic crisis and sadly the list of well-established restaurant chains that has filed for bankruptcy since 2020 continues to grow. Recently, a beloved Midwestern pizza chain joined the unfortunate bunch.

Happy Joe’s parent company Dynamic Restaurant Holdings filed for bankruptcy earlier this month. Dynamic also operates Florida-based coal-fired pizza chain Tony Sacco. As a result, company-owned locations will be closed across both brands.

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Known for its signature thin-crust taco pizza, Happy Joe’s has claimed 42 locations in Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Illinois, Missouri and Minnesota by the end of 2021. Tony Sacco, meanwhile, is only four places too short. A total of nine corporate-owned Happy Joe’s and two Tony Sacco’s restaurants were listed in a September 2 bankruptcy filing. Among that group, three Happy Joe’s and Tony Sacco’s locations have both already closed their doors.

But that doesn’t mean brands are disappearing altogether. The bankruptcy will not affect any of the chain’s franchise locations, including Happy’s Joe’s 90% of its restaurants and Tony Sacco’s 50% of the locations.

So what is the reason for this decidedly sad turn of events for Joe? Dynamic cites the lingering economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the ever-increasing costs of staffing, supplies and leasing. The company is in debt of $5.3 million spread over two loans. When Dynamic originally bought a majority stake in both brands in 2017, private equity firm AAVN Equity Advisors acted as a financial partner in the deal by supplying those two loans. Dynamics owes another $1.2 million on a separate loan from the seller of Happy Joe.

Combination of COVID-19 and high prices “disrupted” [Dynamic’s] the ability to continue its operations with its current footprint and otherwise pay operating expenses on time,” Dynamics CEO Tom Sacco said in the court filing.

Viewed from the outside, the Happy Jose was seen climbing up ahead of the announcement. Compared to 2020, total sales increased by 13% in 2021. And, the first quarter of 2022 saw sales increase 4% year over year, making it the series’ fifth straight quarter of positive growth. The brand recently announced plans to open more than 50 locations in Egypt and the Middle East.

The first Happy Joe’s restaurant was founded in 1972 by Lawrence Joseph “Happy Joe” Whitty, and the locations serve pasta, sandwiches, and ice cream sundaes in addition to pizza.

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John Anderer is a writer who specializes in science, health and lifestyle topics. John. read more about

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