Young and Hungry

Restaurant Group Behind Hawk ’n’ Dove Files for Bankruptcy

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The group behind Hawk ’n’ Dove, Molly Malone’s, The Chesapeake Room, and six other restaurants filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday.

“Since August, 2013, margins have declined significantly,” said the business’ managing member William Nimmo in a press release. “After careful consideration of available alternatives, we determined that a Chapter 11 filing was a prudent and necessary step to maintain and enhance operations and allow for a successful restructuring.”

Barrack’s Row Ent. Group LLC and its nine subsidiaries—Hawk ’n’ Dove, Boxcar Tavern, The Chesapeake Room, Lola's, Pacifico Cantina, Senart's Oyster & Chop House, Molly Malone's, Park Tavern, and yet-to-open Willie's Brew and Que—all filed petitions with D.C. Bankruptcy Court on March 28. All report debt between $1 million and $10 million, except for Willie’s Brew and Que, which listed debts from $0 to $50,000.

The restaurants are expected to continue operating as normal, according to the press release. Nimmo says the restaurant group plans “to further expand with Willie’s BBQ and enhancements to our existing locations.”

Restaurateur Xavier Cervera sold the restaurants last year to the current restaurant group, whose ownership is led by his brother Richard Cervera, formerly CEO of the Taco Cabana chain.

Read more in the press release below. 

Barrack’s Row Ent. Group, LLC Files for Bankruptcy Under Chapter 11 of the United StatesBankruptcy Code

Washington, DC – Barrack’s Row Ent. Group, LLC announced today that in an effort to address and reorganize certain structural debt issues, it and its operating subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United StatesBankruptcy Court for the District of Columbia.

The Companies’ bar and restaurant operations are expected to continue as normal and staff, food, liquor vendors and suppliers will be timely paid going forward throughout the bankruptcy process as it works to reorganize its debt structure.

“Since August, 2013, margins have declined significantly. After careful consideration of available alternatives, we determined that a Chapter 11 filing was a prudent and necessary step to maintain and enhance operations and allow for a successful restructuring,” said William Nimmo, Managing Member of Barrack’s Row Holdings LLC.

The reorganization will be supervised by part-owner and CEO, Richard Cervera, a leading restaurateur and former CEO of the Taco Cabana chain, as well as Founder and CEO of Edun Ltd, the parent company of the Edun brand of sustainably made clothing co-founded by Bono and Ali Hewson.  “Richard is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable individuals in the restaurant industry, developed a cutting edge brand in Edun, and has even worked to enhance a venerable leading restaurant in Napa Valley.  He has our full confidence to build on the great things we’ve got going while reordering the debt side of the house,” continued Nimmo.

“This reorganization will allow us to refocus our efforts on what is needed most: a rededication to quality food and a neighborhood atmosphere that reflects the unique nature of Capitol Hill and our loyal customer base of families, Hill staffers, neighbors and Nat’s fans looking to eat and drink before or after attending a home game.  We have opened Hawk n’ Dove, as well as Park Tavern over the past year, and look to further expand with Willie’s BBQ and enhancements to our existing locations," said Nimmo.

Our restaurants will all carry on business as usual, though we will utilize the bankruptcy process to make improvements where needed in all aspects of operations. We expect to emerge from this restructuring intact and with a manageable balance sheet. On behalf of the entire ownership and management team, I want to thank our customers and vendors for their continued loyalty during this process and to recognize the dedicated team members whose continued support and commitment have been and remain crucial to the future success of our local businesses,” said Nimmo.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Idea

    Fix Park Tavern. That place must be a black hole for you. Make the outdoor seating a little more private and nicer to sit in. And FIX THE MENU. It's weird. And Terrible. That place should be packed but it's always empty.

  • Rocko

    Not shocked at all. Most of those places are terrible except to grab an occasional beer and there is a lot of competition now so you can't be crappy and survive anymore.

  • HillVet

    Credit to Xavier who invested in Barracks Row and parts of Cap Hill that 5-6 years ago, consisted of a motley crew of smelly, hole in wall spots and dated/tired restaurants (that not even Rober Irvin from Restaurant Impossible could save)

    That being said his restaurants didn't keep up with the times. Cap Hill residents want more then a decent atmosphere, they also want quality food and you cannot get that at any of these restaurants. The restaurant scene is changing on Cap Hill/Navy Yard/Barracks Row and the days of being able to serve bland, tired food is over (or at least I hope so).

  • Hole Rat

    Hard to compete when the "vision" of your organizing principle is dirty mop water. Nothing quite says "anywhere else" these days like that special combination of stale beer and pine scented disinfectant.

    Taco Cabana is a fourth rate operation - somehow managing horrible tacos in San Antonio. The transfer to the brother etcetera smells like bankruptcy fraud, bankruptcy fraud mixed with dirty mop water.

  • Corky

    If I was an employee there, I would want my pay in cash. If you eat there, pay your waiter's tip in cash too. A whole lot of funny business goes on in bankruptcy and employees like waiters often get screwed.

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  • HillResident

    I ask your forgiveness: I know it's wrong to find joy in other people's misfortune, but this made my day. I can only hope it leads to a complete turnover in ownership.

    I think it was less that his restaurants failed to keep up with the times and more that his ideas were flawed from the start. Did we need one upscale Applebys? Yes. Did we need two? Maybe. Did we need seven? Absolutely not. He should have stopped at Molly Malone's, but it was like he couldn't help himself.

    What also probably didn't help is that he went for the anti-kids angle. I get wanting to be more of a bar/adult place, and that's fine, but you are also cutting yourself off from a big chunk of potential customers. Plus, Hank's, Aqua, and Rose's prove that you can be both with a little effort (and understanding).

  • districtwanderer

    Didn't take a genius to see that eventually these places would cave in on themselves. What an over-leveraged idiot...and shady as hell too, selling to his brother's group and they're now filing chapter 11? All very suspicious. I will continue to avoid these places like the plague (but sorry for the staff!)

  • kiltedvet

    Color me not surprised. An outsider, with outsider backing from Florida, comes in and muscles out previous ownership/"turns over" a bunch of Capitol Hill restaurants, very quickly, into establishments that you literally couldn't tell apart, then sells them even faster for a profit to a group managed by...wait for it...his brother. And a year later there are "too many losses" and they all file for bankruptcy??? Come on.

    Lola's was the only place worth a damn then it went downhill with all the rest. This wasn't some heroic saving of establishments. This was greed personified. Can only hope that future individual owners can step up and transform these hollow businesses into places with true character and Cap Hill charm.

  • ET

    I like the decor of Senarts, Hawk & Dove, and Boxcar but should I be commenting on the decor? Really? It seems more time was originally spend on the decor with the food a far distant second. Obviously the current ownership can't be blamed for that balance when they originally opened, but the can be blamed for the food not getting better and in some people's opinion getting worse. For me the food was only ever so-so, nothing to write home about and I don't know that that had changed.

    They seem in those 3 cases at least, to be going for the same customers. You weren't getting anything different with those three except the decor. As for the others the food was a little different but honestly, it seemed about the same.

  • Eli

    Agree with all the comments above. So much prime real estate but such limited vision...too much of the same same to differentiate any of the restaurants from each other. If I want Oysters, I go to Hank's. much better selection and a hell of a lot cheaper than Senarts. How the Park Tavern is not packed to the max all the time is beyond me given the location. however, one look at the menu gives it away. $15 burgers? come on. this is a baseball crowd looking for good food at an affordable price. Also, when baseball isn't going on, you need to figure out how to get the residents in there and keep coming back. price points need to be lower and need to add a lot more variety to the menu so people have choices. Love the rooftop at Pacifico Cantina and at least the prices are good for the food you get. They should just sell the space for Willie's Brew and Q and allow someone with money come in and make that place the new hangout spot. They may want to take a few pointers from the Neighborhood restaurant group who can't seem to miss.

  • Stephanie

    I must admit that I too was overcome with glee after reading about Hawk N' Dove's financial issues. As someone who loved the old Hawk, I was absolutely horrified by the drastic changes made. Yeah, the old place was filthy, service wasn't great, and the jailbait dance parties upstairs were a joke (did anyone else refer to the migration of scantily clad 19-year old girls from the Eastern Market Metro to HND as "The Penn Ave Hoe Parade"?), but it had character and charm, not to mention a ton of history associated with it. The post above by Hillresident is 100% spot on- we don't need 7 upscale Applebee's in the neighborhood; every one of Xavier's places is a carbon copy of each other and all are a case study in mediocraty.

  • Capitol Yards Snobby

    I have to agree with everyone above me. As a person who rents here in 1 of the several new high rises, I don't want to eat "Pureed Sheep Hooves" every night. The food down here is crazy and the prices are even worse!

    Don't you realize we are all single or married with no kids. We just want something simple. Last time I went to order a grilled cheese sandwich, it was on rye bread and made with goat cheese?? FOR REAL? No wonder it was $10.

    Can someone just stop with all this snobby food, and serve regular American food?? Potbelly is about the only 'normal' restaurant we have down here (that's not fast food)... PLEASE start serving food real people eat!! Can I just have some chili and a baked potato?????

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