Marra Restaurant Group Files For Receivership
Steve Marra's company owns seven restaurants, including the Grille on Main and the Post Office Cafe.
The parent company for local restaurants the Grille on Main and Post Office Café filed for receivership Wednesday in Kent County Superior Court, according to a spokesman for the receiver.
William Fisher, of True North Communications, said that court-appointed receiver Jonathan Savage is charged with "the oversight and protection of the Marra Restaurant Group assets."
Fisher said that the receivership filing is "a by-product" of being named in a class-action lawsuit over illegal faxing. Marra owns seven restaurants in Rhode Island. They are all named in the suit, which alleges that they sent faxes to businesses without prior consent.
"The penalty can be very high," said Fisher, explaining why Marra may have opted to file for receivership.
"There are no plans to close operations or to close the restaurants," said Fisher. "There are no plans to lay off workers or change menus. This is a business matter. This isn't a liquidation of assets due to hard times."
The named plaintiff in the facsimile lawsuit is Pizza Pie-er, a restaurant in Providence, but according to attorneys, there are potentially thousands of people or businesses who could be claimants.
Attorney Brian Wanca, of Chicago, is one of the lead lawyers who brought the suit. Gary Levine, an East Greenwich resident, is serving as local counsel for Wanca. According to Wanca, the lawsuit was filed a year ago and is not near resolution.
"They don't need bankruptcy protection against this," said Wanca in a phone interview Saturday. "It has nothing to do with it," he said. According to Wanca, he has "hundreds" of cases like this across the country, including several in Rhode Island. Typically, he said, the company's insurer settles with the plaintiffs.
Sending unsolicitated facsimiles has been illegal since 1991. Congress passed the law after hearing from doctors and other individuals who said that their phone lines were being tied up during business hours by unwanted faxes.
According to Wanca, the Marra Restaurant Group "paid a broadcaster in New York to send 5,000 faxes. They created an advertisement and then they sent it to thousands of people in Rhode Island."
Owner Steve Marra did not return messages asking for comment. He did meet with staff members of the Grille on Main Friday evening to explain the situation.
"Everything's going to be business as usual," Marra told employees. "You have my word."
On Sunday evening at the Grille, people were eating and the Patriots game was on the television over the bar.
"Yeah, it's really tough," said Grille bar manager Mario Abbondanza, "but we're going to get through it."