Monday, July 30, 2018

[UPDATE] Sage Woodfire Tavern Has Filed For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

A number of entities related to Atlanta-based restaurant chain Sage Woodfire Tavern filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  The chain, previously known as "Infinite Dining Group," operates four Sage locations: on Haynes Bridge Road in Alpharetta, on Ashford Dunwoody Road across from Perimeter Mall, on Windy Hill Road not far from SunTrust Park, and on Peachtree Road in Buckhead. 
A photo promoting the "Welcome to Buckhead" opening of Sage in Buckhead 
In all, seven corporate entities related to the restaurant chain - but not "Infinite Dining Group,"  filed on July 26 for reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta.  Records with the Georgia Secretary of State's office indicate that Infinite Dining Group, which was first formed in late 2006, was administratively dissolved by the state in August 2017.  

Multiple restaurant sources have been telling ToNeTo Atlanta for months that Sage was "over leveraged" and "having money troubles," but still the chain kept opening and operating restaurants.  

After a minor expansion, months of delays, and reportedly $3 million in renovations, the restaurant's Buckhead location opened late this past February in the former Morton’s The Steakhouse space across from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Buckhead.  The nearly 10,000 square foot building was expanded to over 11,500 square feet, providing seating for 300 guests.   In early May the restaurant hosted a "Welcome to Buckhead" opening event that provided 1,000 patrons with a free lunch buffet featuring "Oysters Rockefeller, Watermelon and Roquefort Salad, live action Pasta and Carving Stations, New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp and Grits, gourmet salads, magnificent ice carvings and an over-the-top dessert display." 

The Buckhead restaurant's opening came on the heels of the group's opening in the former Houston's on Powers Ferry Road in Cobb County.  An East Cobb location near the intersection of Johnson Ferry and Roswell Roads opened in late 2016, but was closed by May 2017.  (Much to the delight of area residents, the East Cobb location will soon reopen as a Jason's Deli.) 

Sage, controlled by founder James Liakakos,  listed liabilities of more than $2.5 million, including hundreds of thousands owed to numerous Atlanta businesses such as Cost Plus Holdings, a merchant processing firm in Alpharetta ($468,050) and Littco Restaurant Supply in Norcross ($108,236.02).     

Anastasios "Tom" Vasilakos, a resident of Brooklyn, was the single largest creditor with an unsecured claim of $1.5 million.  

Peachtree Lenox Investors, LLC c/o PM Realty Group, L.P., Sage's landlord in Buckhead, was among the other significant unsecured creditors and is owed just over $90,000.   

Food suppliers Performance Foodservice, Revere Meat Co. and Bruce's Best, and music publishing firm BMI as well as music provider Muzak were among the other notable unsecured creditors.  

Atlanta based Here to Serve Restaurants abruptly closed all ten of their restaurants in late 2015 and eventually filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. 

There is currently no word on when or if any of the Sage restaurants will close.  

Are you surprised that Sage Woodfire Tavern is in trouble?  Have you ever dined at Sage Woodfire Tavern? Do you think Atlanta has too many similar restaurants?  

Please share your thoughts below.   


Anonymous said...

Wow that sucks. I used to live within walking distance of the one in Dunwoody and went there frequently. Given how busy that location was, it must have been mismanagement that led to this situation rather than market conditions. But I never visited any of the other locations either.

F&B Guy said...

Thanks for the update.

It does seem like the operators took a big chance and swung for the fences. Sometimes that works, and sometimes you declare bankruptcy...

Not sure about why you included the comment about Here To Serve Restaurants. It seems a bit out of place in an otherwise informative article.

Anonymous said...

I like Sage Restaurants. This is disappointing. It does sound like they over expanded.

Anonymous said...

they owe me a ton of money...not surprised they closed...horrible food and service...cant keep a chef; wrote bad checks....I just hope to collect on what they owe my company

Anonymous said...

one other note....your article discusses the menu for the opening in Buckhead....that isn't what they ended up serving...the Uncle from Florida came in to town 3 days before the opening and scrapped that amazing menu and their new chef exited as a result. it shows you have to be really good at running a restaurant, even if its a glorified diner, to make it in Buckhead

Amy said...

they are not closing - this is just a reorg of debt. BOth Buckhead and Perimeter perform very well.

Anonymous said...

this restaurant always looked ghetto. bye!

Anonymous said...

Reorg of debt, mmmmm sounds like trying to stick it to the creditors when they should be getting out of a business they apparently are not good at running financially.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they shouldn’t try to turn their restaurants into night clubs. People standing around to see and be seen— nursing the same drink all night. Why do you need a loud DJ? People who come in for a nice dinner with their significant other or good friends would rather have soft jazz or piano music.

Atlanta Bail Bonds said...

I had a friend that worked at the perimeter location in Atlanta. He said there was constant turnover and they went through 5 managers in a single year. Too focused on the wrong things, treating their people horribly, and taking on too much debt is a surefire way to "shut it down" as Gordan Ramsay would say.

Anonymous said...

The most poorly run restaurant that I have ever worked for. The owner literally berates and curses out his entire staff on a daily basis. That's the reason why they cant get or keep good staff. His name has been mud throughout the restaurant industry for years.

Molly said...

I actually like the place on Powers Ferry! Nice food and good service. Have never been disappointed. Plus, they have my favorite chardonnay by the glass.

Anonymous said...

James, the owner, can be tough to work for because of his tremendous passion and unwavering dedication to high standards. Trust me I know the hard way. I was on the wrong end of a chair thrown by him against the wall on a busy night. I do wish Sage and James the best. Sage employs many dedicated and talented team members. The concept is sound and Perimeter and Buckhead are doing well. Opening two new multi-million doller locations within a few months was overly aggressive. The restaurant biz is the absolute toughest business to succeed in....but James has over 30 years experience in the industry and over 20 years success with the Sage concept. Hopefully chapter 11 will work successfully as the tool it os designed to be and this will be a learning experience for the resturant and it’s owner.

Anonymous said...

They owe me well over 5 digits. Time to collect.

Anonymous said...

Not a shocker at all. James was utterly rude, volatile and abrasive, I remember him vividly and swore I would NEVER go back to any of his restaurants ever again. Karma strikes with a vengeance.

Anonymous said...

����Please Read����

Warning! This will be a long post, but if you go eat here you may want to know a few things about the type of establishment that you are patronizing. ⚠️

First off, Sage does have pretty decent food. I've eaten a few things off the menu, the salmon is pretty good and the filet is tender. ����

The atmosphere is fantastic, they have live music almost daily and the place really looks nice on the inside. There's plush booths everywhere. ������

The owner James and the management staff, Steve (GM) and Seline (Assistant Manager) care nothing about the guest or staff. They treat the servers and cooks like shit and they are rude to the guests.��������

Please do not change your mind on an order and send your food back. They will make your server pay for the item you ordered out of their tips! ������

Thats not even the biggest concern! The owner, James and Management Steve and Seline make the servers work for free and threaten to fire them if they don't. ILLEGAL!

A typical work day can be 10+ hours at Sage for a server. ������

Servers are paid $2.13 an hour plus tips. If you are late for even one minute they will make you run food for the entire shift and take the section away from the server.��

Therefore the server receives no tips! They don't change the servers hourly wage either! They keep it at $2.13. So that server is essentially working for free for at least 6-7 hours or however long management wants the server to be their SLAVE. ����

On top of that, the owner James and management, Steve and Seline make the servers do all of the deep cleaning of the restaurant because they are too cheap to hire a proper cleaning crew. More work for the servers to do and not be paid for. ����

Some servers don't get off until 3am in the morning and are expected back by 9 am. The owner James and management, Steve and Seline are very disrespectful to the staff, belittle and talk down to them. ����

Servers and bartenders quit EVERYDAY so they hire new people EVERYDAY. I've read a couple other reviews talking about how they really enjoyed Frankie the bartenders service. Well you won't anymore, because she quit a few days ago.����‍♀️����‍♀️

Why, because she was tired of being disrespected by management and because 2 of her checks from Sage did not clear at the bank! She and another former bartender who also quit had to bring the police to Sage to make sure that they gave them legit checks.������

There may be a total of 4 bartenders and servers who have been working for Sage for more than 6 months.����

90% of the servers and bartenders are brand new and have only been working there for a few weeks. If you don't believe me, go into Sage and just ask one of the servers how long they have been working there. It won't be long smh. ������

How do I know these things you ask? Because I used to work there. I recently quit because of disrespectful, manipulative, dishonest management and owners. JAMES, STEVE & SELINE. ✌������

Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful for the 3 weeks that I worked there. Definitely taught me how NOT to do business and how NOT to treat people. So I'll use it as a lesson. Damn, I love personal development!����

I have worked in the restaurant industry for 10+ years now and have never worked for a more DISGUSTING, DISRESPECTFUL, UNPROFESSIONAL management team. They should all be ashamed of themselves on how they treat their servers and how they screw the servers out of their hard earned money. JAMES, STEVE & SELINE. ����‍♂️

Thank God I have developed myself and have multiple streams of income. This allowed me to walk away from that horrible situation.

I completely understand why the owner James two other locations got shut down. God don't like and sure don't bless ugly souls.

I pray for my former co-workers, I feel bad for them that they have to go through what they do. I pray for the owner JAMES and the management as well STEVE and SELINE. They need serious, serious help. Please get it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the "Anonymous" poster with the long comment above. I held a position in the upper tier of the management staff for this company several years ago, and overall their business acumen is pathetic at best. They are crooked, they will take full advantage of every possible loophole and back door deal they can get their hands on- often at the expense of the staff. I was told of and had begun to see some illegal activity taking place within the company, and then I was told that I was expected to participate because I represented them as a Manager. I refused and left my employment that afternoon. I was replaced the next day with another person from another of their restaurants. These are the same family that went through several lawsuits in New York several years ago for stealing money from the servers and were ordered to pay back monies totaling in the millions of dollars and going back many years. That had affected hundreds of families. Nothing in this article is shocking if you know them.

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