Max & Erma’s closed 13 restaurants — or about 19 percent of its system — this week as part of an effort by its parent company to streamline operations in a brand revitalization effort.

Employees were told Monday that the restaurants would close effective immediately, according to a statement by parent company American Blue Ribbon Holdings confirming the closures. The Detroit Free Press first reported the closures.

“As American Blue Ribbon Holdings continues to optimize the Max & Erma’s brand, we are in the process of streamlining operations and underperforming locations,” the company said in a statement.

The company said that a member of its senior leadership team personally delivered the news to employees on Monday. Employees were also provided with a severance agreement.

“We felt the best way to handle this news was to deliver the news in person,” the company said.

ABRH, controlled by the Florida-based title insurance company Fidelity National Financial Inc., also said that it plans to announce the “next phase” of its restructuring on Jan. 25.

Fidelity formed ABRH when it started buying restaurants in 2009, in the midst of the recession, starting with Baker’s Square and Village Inn. In 2010, it acquired Max & Erma’s out of bankruptcy for $28 million.

Last year, Fidelity spun off its other restaurant company, J. Alexander’s, and said it planned to do the same with ABRH, which also operates the casual-dining chain O’Charley’s.

The 13 closures represent about 19 percent of the 68 locations Max & Erma’s operated systemwide as of the end of 2014. According to NRN Top 200 data, the chain’s system sales in 2014 were $127.9 million, or a 4.4-percent decrease from the preceding year.

Contact Jonathan Maze at jonathan.maze@penton.com
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