FoodFirst Global Restaurants, the Orlando headquartered parent company of Italian restaurant chains Brio and Bravo, filed last week for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
According to several sources, the company had been struggling with reduced sales and lower profits prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The forced closures of most of the restaurants that were still in operation now brings into question how many of them will fully reopen when the mandate is lifted. Several, including the Brio at Mall at Millenia, are still open for curbside pickup during the pandemic.
Notably, the Brio in Winter Park Village no longer appears on the company’s website page of restaurant locations. Only the Mall at Millenia location is listed locally. The Bravo restaurant at Dellagio has long been closed and that space is currently under renovations to become the new location for Norman’s.
FoodFirst was founded in May of 2018 in Columbus, Ohio, by Winter Park resident Brad Blum, a former president of Olive Garden. FoodFirst acquired the two Italian brands for $100 million. Blum moved the headquarters to the CNL Tower in downtown Orlando later that year.
Blum was replaced by as CEO earlier this year by Steve Layt, a former president of Applebee’s. At the time of the announcement, the company said that Blum had also resigned as the company’s chairman but remained a co-owner.
At the time FoodFirst acquired the restaurants, there were 110 locations in 32 states. Prior to last week’s bankruptcy filing, the company had closed 71 of its 92 remaining locations.
Brio came into the Central Florida market as Brio Tuscan Grille when Winter Park Village opened in 2000. The name was being changed to Brio Italian Mediterranean.