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The group behind Houston-based Joe’s Crab Shack, founded here in 1991, has filed for bankruptcy.

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Ignite Restaurant Group Inc., the operator of the Joe’s and Brick House Tavern & Tap chains, is hoping to sell to an affiliate of Kelly Investment Group.

The group announced that sales have declined due to a drop in customer traffic. They listed estimated total debts as of April 30 of $197.3 million in Chapter 11 papers filed Tuesday in Houston federal court. Assets totaled $153.4 million.


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“The debtors have continued to experience declining financial performance and declines in comparable restaurant sales and income from operations at Joe’s and Brick House,” Tibus said in a court filing. “The debtors have closed underperforming restaurants and implemented cost reduction measures to help mitigate the effect of these declines and improve their financial position and liquidity.”

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