Famed Providence restaurant Gracie’s files for bankruptcy; plans to reopen

Business News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – One of Providence’s best-known restaurants has filed for bankruptcy, as restrictions tied to the coronavirus pandemic take a heavy toll on one of the capital city’s most important industries.

Court documents show Gracie’s Ventures Inc., the parent company of Gracie’s on Washington Street as well as the nearby café Ellie’s, filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Nov. 30. The company reported over $1 million in liabilities owed to over 50 creditors, including $614,663 tied to two emergency U.S. Small Business Administration loans given out during the pandemic.

Ellen Slattery, who opened Gracie’s in 1998 and remains its owner, said filing for Chapter 11 will allow the company to restructure its balance sheet, and is “the only way” her establishment can survive.

“We need relief so we can continue to grow Gracie’s Ventures in a positive direction and come out of this stronger to withstand what we are headed for in our industry for years to come,” Slattery told 12 News in an email. “We will continue to persevere. If any team has the grit to do it, we do.”

Gracie’s will remain closed for the month of December due to the tightened restrictions imposed by Gov. Gina Raimondo amid rising coronavirus cases, but Slattery said she hopes to reopen in January “depending on industry regulations at the time.” Ellie’s remains open for takeout and holiday orders.

“We have been a part of the community for 22 years,” Slattery said. “We have fought through the recession, 9/11, guests feeling unsafe to come downtown. We have built a network of dedicated farmers, friends, and family in the community. We work to give back to our community and those in need. We are here to keep fighting.”

Writing on Twitter, Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO Kristen Adamo warned that more restaurants could be in trouble without action by the government to assist them:

Angus Davis, the Providence entrepreneur who founded restaurant technology company Upserve, was listed as one of the creditors owed money by Gracie’s Ventures. He said he has asked the company to wipe out any debt owed to him.

“Gracie’s is one of the best restaurants in Rhode Island,” David said in an email. “I am proud of Ellen and her team. This bankruptcy was not her fault. Gracie’s transports its guests to another place, a magical place, if even just for an hour or two.”

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a small part of Ellen’s incredible restaurant, and I look forward to continuing to be her friend, supporter and patron moving forward,” he continued. “I expect Gracie’s to re-emerge on the other side of this reorganization ready to serve guests once again with amazing food and unparalleled hospitality.”

Davis added, “I will remark some other time about the incompetence of our government and its unwillingness to help the restaurant industry it shut down, which is criminal.”

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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