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Business as usual promised in South Portland after Uno files Chapter 11

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Business as usual promised in South Portland after Uno files Chapter 11

SOUTH PORTLAND — Uno's Chicago Grill restaurants in South Portland and Bangor are among 153 company-owned restaurants included in a corporate bankruptcy filing.

Boston-based Uno Restaurant Holdings voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Jan. 20 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

Frank Guidara, president and chief executive officer of Uno, said in a press release that the bankruptcy reorganization, which does not include independently owned franchises, is not expected to affect restaurant operations.

"From the perspective of our customers, it will be business as usual in our restaurants and consumer products business and they will see the same commitment to quality and service that they have come to expect from the Uno brand," he said. "We are also working very closely with our employees, vendors and partners and we expect no disruption to our daily operations."

Uno spokesman Michael Fox said that 16 restaurants were closed ahead of the filing, leading to the loss of about 700 full- and part-time jobs.

Fox said the two Uno restaurants in Maine, at 280 Maine Mall Road in South Portland and 725 Stillwater Ave., Bangor, are part of the bankruptcy filing but remain open.

Guidara said the filing will allow the company to shed its "burdensome debt" by converting $142 million in senior notes owed to majority bondholders into a controlling equity stake in the company.

Meanwhile, a $52 million debtor-in-possession agreement will provide financial stability throughout the reorganization process, he said.

"We commence this process on very solid financial footing and we expect to exit Chapter 11 in an expeditious manner," Guidara said.

Guidara said reorganizing the debt should position the company, which was founded in 1943, for future growth.

"The Uno brand is strong; it's the balance sheet that needs fixing," he said. "The lifting of our heavy debt load burden has invigorated our team. Uno is alive and well and the best days are very much ahead."

Uno Restaurant Holdings Corp. includes 179 company-owned and franchised restaurants in 28 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Honduras, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

The company also has a division that supplies airlines, movie theaters, hotels, airports, travel plazas, schools and supermarkets with frozen and refrigerated private-label foods and branded Uno products.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net