Claim Jumper restaurants file for bankruptcy

Claim Jumper Restaurants LLC, the operator of a restaurant chain in California, Illinois and six other states, sought bankruptcy protection with a plan to sell the business to one of its investors.

The chain has three Illinois outlets in Hoffman Estates, Wheeling and Lombard.

The Irvine, California-based company listed assets of as much as $100 million and debt of as much as $500 million in Chapter 11 documents filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware.

Private Capital Partners, an affiliate of Los Angeles-based Canyon Capital Advisors LLC, agreed to buy virtually all of the assets, Claim Jumper said today in a statement. Claim Jumper expects to leave bankruptcy in 60 to 75 days with no debt. The company said it filed a motion to set up an asset auction.

"Our operations will continue just as they always have during the sale process," Chief Executive Officer Mark Augarten said in the statement. Piper Jaffray & Co. is Claim Jumper's adviser on the sale and Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCoy LLP is the lead bankruptcy counsel, Claim Jumper said.

Craig Nickoloff opened the first Claim Jumper Restaurant in Los Alamitos, California in 1977. The chain consists of 45 restaurants in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin, according to the company website.

Gold Rush Purchase Corp. owns 75.3 percent of the equity of Claim Jumper Restaurants and the remainder is owned by Claim Jumper Restaurants Holdings Corp., court papers show.

Claim Jumper restaurantoutside the Yorktown Shopping Center in Lombard. Daily Herald file photo