San Diego-Based Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill Files For Bankruptcy

October 26, 2020

San Diego-based Rubio’s Restaurants Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after shuttering dozens of restaurants earlier this year.

After being inspired the fried fish tacos he found in Baja's San Felipe, MX, during a trip during spring break, San Diego-native and SDSU-alum Ralph Rubio founded the first Rubio's restaurant in 1983 at a former Orange Julius site on Mission Bay Drive in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. Since then, the chain has ballooned to nearly 200 locations and has sold more than 200 million fish tacos. The original location remains open to this day.  

Today, the Carlsbad-based fast-casual Mexican brand announced it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware with a prepackaged restructuring plan, citing declining sales that began in 2017 and accelerated amid the pandemic. An agreement has been reached on a comprehensive financial restructuring with the company's sponsor, Mill Road Capital L.P., and its lenders, funds managed by Golub Capital, to recapitalize the company. Rubio’s will be obtaining debtor-in-possession financing from Golub Capital and an additional investment from Mill Road to support operations at its 167 restaurants in California, Arizona and Nevada. Rubio's received a $10 million Paycheck Protection Program loan this year but has $82.3 million in outstanding debt, according to its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

As a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, earlier this year Rubio's permanently closed 26 locations, most of which were sited in Colorado and Florida. Other Rubio's restaurants remain temporarily closed and may decide to permanently shutter or reopen as state and county restrictions are modified. In the 2019 fiscal year, Rubio’s reported it had 197 restaurants, compared with 204 in 2018, according to Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 200 census.