Alessi's files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
TAMPA - Alessi's, the fourth-generation Tampa bakery and restaurant company, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company cited between $10 million and $50 million in debts, and has already hired a reorganization specialist to sort through the company's finances. That could give Alessi's a way to move forward after a rush of expansion saddled the company with significant operations to support in a down economy. The bakery and restaurant on West Cypress Avenue will remain open.Legal filings with federal courts tell the story of a family company that's grown along with Tampa. Alessi's started as a small bakery, delivering bread by horse and wagon, but grew steadily over the decades to include catering, retail shops and commercial food importing and production. In May 2007, the company made its biggest move, acquiring commercial production space spanning 100,000 square feet, roughly the size of a SuperWalmart, and enclosed almost half in refrigerated walls. At one point, they envisioned another restaurant on Kennedy Boulevard. For a time, production soared and the company posted revenues of $11.9 million a year. Then the recession struck, and the lender on the property foreclosed. Alessi's cites debts to the Zions First National Bank of $5.9 million, the U.S. Small Business Association of $3 million and the Southern Commerce Bank of $1 million. Employment now totals 150 people.Alessi's is seeking court approval to reorganize those debts. The founders and top officers did not yet return calls seeking comment. The business is incorporated as Phil's Cake Box Bakeries Inc.
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