Friday, May 04, 2007

Not Dead Yet

Pat McDonagh, owner of Supermacs and investor in the Claddagh chain, may have a solution to the Claddagh bankruptcy. Somehow or other he wants to recoup the $21 million owed him, and it could happen if he buys up Claddagh. But wouldn't that cost him even more money?

According to Mr. McDonagh's attorney, the investor is working with creditors and the court appointed trustee to keep the restaurants open and operating. Now that Kevin Blair is out of the picture, after getting the sack through Mr. McDonagh's behind the scenes efforts, the restaurants are doing a fine business, churning out pub grub and pints. The parent corporation is floundering at the moment, with $33 million in debt to be covered, but obviously McDonagh still has faith in the concept and its viability. If he can only stave off the creditors, let the profits flow in so that there is enough in the kitty to pay them back, the Claddagh chain just might make it.

There's back taxes owed, and government officials are pressed for cash these days. Mr. McDonagh will have to do some fancy talking to make them understand that they will be better off in the long run if they give him time to raise the money, rather than push for a court-ordered sell-off of assets, partial payment of taxes owed, and the death of Claddagh. The same goes for the myriad creditors, from food vendors to construction companies, who have been waiting for payment for a long time and may not be willing to wait even longer. After all, something is better than nothing, when getting nothing could stretch out over years before the whole debt is paid in full.

The phone lines are buzzing between Galway and Cincinnati, as Pat McDonagh wheels and deals with the Claddagh creditors. If everyone can compromise on what they say they are owed, the seventeen restaurants and hundreds of employees will get to keep their jobs and Supermacs will have its foot in the door of the American restaurant industry. A good deal all around, except of course for Kevin Blair, whose dreams of riches as the guru of Irish dining have come to naught.

If he can come to an agreement about the $21 million due him, Pat McDonagh will come up with another chunk of change to buy up the struggling restaurant chain, and surely that demonstrates his faith in the business. The survival of Claddagh will depend on Pat McDonagh's ability to woo the creditors. The employees of Claddagh hope he's a smooth talker.

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