FRESNO -- The Tahoe Joe's restaurant chain, which was born here, is for sale.
Buffets Holdings, which operates Hometown Buffet and Tahoe Joe's Famous Steakhouse restaurants, said in recent public filings that it plans to sell the 10 alpine-themed restaurants within a year.
Buffets Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, so any sale has to be approved by a judge. All its restaurants continue to operate as usual while the Eagan, Minn.-based company tries to reorganize.
The restaurants all have positive cash flow and generate about $33 million in sales, according to an ad placed in a trade publication.
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The company decided to sell Tahoe Joe's to focus on its main line of buffet restaurants.
"This was kind of an orphan division," said Rob Hill of J.H. Chapman Group, an investment banking firm that's looking for a buyer for Tahoe Joe's.
Hill said Tahoe Joe's and many other restaurants are feeling the pinch of a souring economy. "It's hard to find a happy restaurant operator in California."
Tahoe Joe's has two restaurants in Fresno and one each in Modesto, Vacaville, Visalia, Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo, Roseville, Folsom and Pleasant Hill. The Modesto restaurant is in North Pointe Shopping Center at Pelandale Avenue and Sisk Road.
Buffets Holdings, which operates Hometown Buffets in Modesto and Turlock, bought 80 percent of Tahoe Joe's in 1999 and became full owner in 2003.
Fresno entrepreneur Dave Fansler started the company in 1996. He operates Yosemite Ranch restaurant in Fresno.