'Iron Chef' announces bankruptcy, sale of restaurant empire

PHILADELPHIA -- An "Iron Chef" from Philadelphia has announced he's filing for bankruptcy and selling his restaurant empire.

Jose Garces filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday and a Louisiana hospitality company has offered to buy the Garces Group for $5 million.

Garces gained fame after winning the second season of Food Network's "The Next Iron Chef."

Garces has previously blamed his financial collapse on the closing of Atlantic City's Revel casino and the four restaurants he operated there, as well as the closing of the Amada location he opened in New York.

"There were a number of restaurants that were incredibly successful for the Garces Group restaurants, and unfortunately when the Revel closed so did the restaurants," said Kate Wilhelm, spokesperson for the Garces Group.

As the finances unraveled, a rash of litigation was brought against Garces, alleging he didn't pay his Center City landlord rent and even shorted food suppliers on their bills.

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said bankruptcy shouldn't eclipse the 45 year old's accomplishments.

"Only 2 percent of Latin-owned business reach over 1 million in sales. So what he's accomplished as a Latino entrepreneur is just fantastic," said chamber CEO Jennifer Rodriguez.

Garces says his restaurants will operate as usual, and he expects few job cuts once Ballard Brands takes over.

The deal is expected to close in 45 to 60 days.

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