Pork & Mindy’s, Food Network star and “Sandwich King” Jeff Mauro’s mini-chain of restaurants that includes a line of barbecue sauces, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy early this month. The filing serves as the final death knell for the ambitious brand that closed its original Bucktown restaurant in August. Crain’s first reported the news.
This means all locations inside Mariano’s grocery stores will close. The supermarket chain will replace Pork & Mindy’s with its own restaurant brand called Mariano’s Smokehouse, according to the Tribune.
The first Pork & Mindys opened in 2016 with visions of global expansion. The restaurant got its name from the 41-year-old TV sitcom Mork & Mindy, which starred the late Robin Williams. The company went on to open restaurants in the Loop and Wrigley Field and planned to launch locations in Irving Park and Elmwood Park. A deal signed earlier this year with Mariano’s anticipated 28 in-store stalls in 2019, but only a few were operational after the filing.
Mauro was flying back to the U.S. on Tuesday from Western Asia, where he visited with and cooked for American military personnel stationed overseas. The chef and TV star said he was not involved in the restaurants’s day-to-day operations. Pork & Mindy’s owner and founder is Kevin Corsello, who runs a private investment firm.
The decision to file for Chapter 7 came as a shock to Mauro. He’d heard about the filing before his trip. The “Sandwich King” said there’s a small chance the name could survive, but unlikely.
“I helped build a brand and I think it’s known and it’s got name [recognition] — whether you hate the name like Eater or love it,” Mauro said.
After the Bucktown location closed, Mauro began concentrating more on TV. The news to close the remaining restaurants was a surprise, but he acknowledged communications between ownership and himself was somewhat muddied in recent times. Ultimately, Mauro said the Mariano’s expansion happened too fast, and “got out of control too quickly.”
While he wouldn’t rule out a return to the restaurant world, Mauro’s focus is now TV and writing. He appears on Food Network’s the Kitchen and is working on a cookbook that should be published in 2021. Locally, he wants to do a few food truck pop-ups where he’ll take over a food truck for a day and slang some sandwiches using recipes he’s been yearning to test out.
Pork & Mindy’s locations won’t use those recipes anymore, after all.