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Restaurateur Swisshelm files for Ch. 7 bankruptcy

<strong>Bruce Swisshelm</strong><hr />

Last edited 3:40 p.m. March 29, 2012

Springfield businessman and restaurateur Bruce Swisshelm filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy March 14 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Swisshelm, CEO of Springfield-based Swisshelm Group Inc. owned and operated the San Francisco Oven franchise, area Macaroni Grill and Ebbets Field restaurants, and McAlister's Deli sites in Florida.

He entered the liquidation petition with joint debtor Margaret Laughlin-Swisshelm, according to court records.

In the filing, the Swisshelms claim $7.66 million in assets and $17.63 million in liabilities. Their combined monthly income is listed as $548, and with average monthly expenses of $4,209, the couple reports an estimated monthly net loss of $3,661.

Sixteen of Swisshelm's companies, namely Swisshelm Group and Swisshelm Family LP, are listed in the bankruptcy filing, which estimates the number of creditors at 100 to 199.

According to the filing, Bruce Swisshelm sold his interest in Ebbets Field LLC and Ebbets Properties on Nov. 1 for $120,000 to Rob Bolks. It is unclear if Swisshelm will retain ownership in his remaining businesses.

Raymond Plaster, the Swisshelms' Springfield attorney, did not respond to multiple calls by deadline. A call to the 2847 S. Ingram Mill Road office of the Swisshelm Group was met with a recorded message that said, "Our office is permanently closed."

In the event of a Chapter 7 liquidation, the debtor's nonexempt property is sold to pay debt owed to creditors, according to Items such as jewelry, household furnishings and a Regions Bank checking and savings account are claimed as exempt in the Swisshelms' filing.

The filing states the debtors plan to surrender their home at 3765 E. Turtle Hatch Road near U.S. Highway 65 and Battlefield Road; real estate owned in Nixa at 844 S. Cobble Creek Blvd. titled in the name of the Margaret L. Swisshelm Trust; and stock in SB Real Estate Holdings LLC, a property holding company established by Bruce Swisshelm in 1997, to satisfy secured claims

by BancorpSouth, Great Southern Bank and Liberty Bank.

Court documents state Great Southern's claim is $7.71 million, BancorpSouth has a claim in the amount of $1.21 million and Liberty Bank has a $935,156 claim. The full amount of Great Southern's claim is considered unsecured. The other two claims do not have unsecured portions.

The East Turtle Hatch Road property, valued at $500,000, was pledged as collateral for the Great Southern deed of trust; the East Turtle Hatch property and the Nixa property, valued at $650,000, were pledged as collateral for the BancorpSouth deed of trust; and the East Turtle Hatch Road property and stock in SB Real Estate Holdings, valued at $557,000, were used as collateral for the Liberty Bank deed of trust.

Among the unsecured nonpriority claims listed in the filing are:

  • several Florida wage claims for Horned Frog Deli Inc. which was organized to manage a number of McAlister's Deli franchises in the state and Swisshelm no longer owned as of Dec. 31;
  • gambling debts totaling $227,500 to four casinos: Biloxi, Miss.-based Palace Casino, which is owned by Prime Inc. founder Robert Low; Goldstrike Casino in Cleveland, Miss.; and Fitzgeralds Casino and Hollywood Casino in Tunica Resorts, Miss.;
  • two Empire Bank loans totaling $887,000 for San Francisco Oven Inc.;
  • $75,000 in personal and business loans from Mid-Missouri Bank; and
  • a $17,000 business lease for San Francisco Oven from Hilton Promenade Hotel in Branson.
According to the filing, the debtors had paid Bank of America $4,500 and still owed $22,000 and paid Elan Financial Services $3,800 and still owed $15,000 as of Jan. 10. As of Nov. 1, 2011, the debtors had paid $82,500 to the the Bad Check Unit of the Mississippi district attorney's office for the benefit of Goldstrike Casino and still owed $28,500.

The Swisshelm Group held the local Burger King franchise rights for nearly 33 years before selling to Duke and King Acquisition Co. in March 2007.

Category: Bank

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