Taylor Gourmet, the Washington-based hoagie chain that opened a decade ago in the H Street Corridor, will close all of its locations by Sunday, according to a company spokesman, after the private equity firm that owned it pulled its funding.
The chain’s two Chicago locations closed on Friday, and the 17 D.C.-area outlets will quickly follow suit, according to the spokesman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. The company plans to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection next week, according to a source close to the company who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak.
Taylor Gourmet co-founder Casey Patten was unavailable to speak to the media, the spokesman said. Patten was visiting each location, breaking the news to employees and managers. It’s uncertain yet what kind of severance package, if any, the employees will get, the spokesman said.
The Washingtonian first reported the imminent closings.
The chain’s sudden closure comes after its majority owner, private-equity firm KarpReilly, pulled out of the company, according to two people familiar with the deal. The Connecticut-based firm was reported to have invested $5.6 million into the chain in 2015, helping fuel its rapid expansion throughout the Washington area. Representatives for KarpReilly did not respond to multiple requests for comment, and the Taylor Gourmet spokesman said he did not know why the firm had chosen to walk away.
KarpReilly owns 75 percent of Taylor Gourmet; the two co-founders own the remaining 25 percent.
Taylor Gourmet took a hit on social media when Patten met with President Trump in January 2017 as part of a small-business roundtable at the White House. Sales dipped at Taylor Gourmet after Patten met with Trump, according to the person close to the company.
At the time, Patten defended the meeting, saying that he used it to ask the president to cut the red tape at the Small Business Administration and to talk about Taylor Gourmet’s immigrant workforce, which was “nervous about the potential regulations coming down the road.” Patten, who is from Philadelphia, said more than half of the company’s 300-plus employees were immigrants or the American-born children of immigrants.
The company — which had grown rapidly to include 10 locations in the District alone — also faced increasing competition from a growing number of fast-casual chains and food trucks in the area. Nationally, Subway and Starbucks have shuttered hundreds of stores in the past year, and Chipotle is in the process of closing as many as 65 locations.
When it comes to business, Patten told The Washington Post at the time of the White House meeting, he’s apolitical. Taylor Gourmet even posted a billboard in Chinatown that stated: “Less Politics, More Hoagies.” Patten said he didn’t vote in the last presidential election and didn’t know if he was registered to vote. (Nexis records indicate that he registered as a Republican in the District in 2002.)
The sandwich chain has become something of a local favorite among politicos and Washington insiders. President Barack Obama was a regular at Taylor Gourmet, where he once hosted a roundtable discussion with small-business owners to discuss his administration’s policies. He and Vice President Joe Biden also famously picked up lunch at the chain’s Pennsylvania Avenue NW location during the 2013 government shutdown, drawing hordes of onlookers. (The chain was offering furloughed federal workers free cookies and 10 percent off their orders.)
Patten and Taylor Gourmet co-founder David Mazza, who left the company about three years ago but remains on its board, were also invited to a White House ceremony in early 2014 when President Obama nominated a new chief for the Small Business Administration. Obama specifically singled out Patten and Mazza as successful small-business owners during the ceremony.