UNO Pizza Chain Owner Wins Bankruptcy Court Approval for Reorg

(Reuters) – The parent of the Uno Chicago Grill pizza chain has won court approval for its bankruptcy reorganization plan, less than six months after it sought protection from creditors.

Judge Martin Glenn approved the Chapter 11 plan for Uno Restaurant Holdings Corp at a hearing on Tuesday in the U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan.

Joseph Smolinsky, a partner at Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP who represents Uno, said the Boston-based company plans to emerge from bankruptcy this month.

Holders of $142 million of senior secured debt would obtain all the stock in a reorganized company, and unsecured creditors could recover about 13 cents on the dollar, he said. Total debt would fall to about $40 million from more than $170 million.

Uno filed for protection from creditors on January 20, saying a weakened economy depressed sales as consumers ate out less, even as the cost of energy and ingredients such as cheese and wheat increased.

Founded in 1943 as Pizzeria Uno at the corner of East Ohio Street and North Wabash Avenue in Chicago, the company is one of the best-known purveyors of the deep-dish pizza that became synonymous with that city.

Uno said it recently owned or franchised 168 restaurants in 26 U.S. states, Washington D.C. and five other countries.

The 77 Uno Chicago Grills operated by franchisees were not part of the bankruptcy, court records show.

Private equity firm Centre Partners had taken a controlling stake in Uno in 2005.

The case is In re: Uno Restaurant Holdings Corp, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 10-10209. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Richard Chang)