In a curious turn of events, PSC Food Service Inc. has locked its doors just days after a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of company assets to one of the nation’s largest food service companies.
But lenders say the vegetable processing and distribution firm may reopen soon, possibly even today, if Chicago-based Alliant Food Service Inc. can come to terms with PSC owners John, Patrick and James Cooper.
“Negotiations are ongoing,” said Patrick Cooper. “The company will reopen.”
Cooper declined to explain why the sale of bankrupt PSC, which was supposed to close no later than April 15, had been delayed.
Meanwhile, the action has thrown 75 people out of work, with uncertain prospects for being rehired, and forced dozens of restaurant customers to scramble for a new food supplier.
“It apparently had something to do with the sale, so they had to lock the doors,” said Jeanie Wigdorski, office manager for Granny’s Buffet restaurant chain, a PSC customer.
But some employees are worried the warehouse, located east of Interstate 90 on the West Plains, may never reopen.
PSC route driver Brian Jones said he was surprised to find himself locked out Saturday when he reported to work, a pair of security guards asking him to return home.
Guards were still on duty Monday and PSC’s telephone answering machine at 10 a.m. said: “We are closed for the evening.”
“This is bizarre,” said Jones, who worked eight months for the company.
Jones said workers were not issued paychecks as promised on Friday. They were told that there wasn’t enough money to cover payroll and only emergency spending money was issued to those who needed it.
Ed Escalante, market president for Alliant operations in the Northwest, could not be reached for comment.
Alliant, the second-largest food service provider in the nation, earlier this year agreed to purchase the assets of PSC. PSC, in turn, would continue as an operating business to prepare salads and other produce for area restaurants and medical centers.
PSC filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors in November. It reported $4.4 million in assets and $5.1 million in liabilities on Jan. 9.
In a court order approved April 11 by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John Klobucher, Alliant agreed to pay up to $500,000 for PSC assets and its inventory. PSC agreed to pay off $125,000 in debts to suppliers of perishable food products.
Alliant needed a greater presence in the Spokane market because most major hospitals were part of a national consortium that had agreed to buy food exclusively from Alliant. But Alliant’s nearest distribution warehouse was in Seattle.
By last week, Alliant was moving files into PSC offices and painting over the PSC logo. The activity halted Friday.
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