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Restaurant Lights Are On, But Max & Erma's Filed for Bankruptcy

Max & Erma's Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Pittsburgh listing between $1 million and $10 million in debts.

The Columbus, Ohio-based hamburger and casual dining chain has 79 company-owned restaurants and 27 owned by franchisees, all of which remain open. Most are in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, though the chain has a few locations in Kentucky and in Chicago, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

Pittsburgh-based G&R Acquisitions bought out Max & Erma's for $10.2 million in April 2008.

Documents filed Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Pittsburgh say Max & Erma's has between 200 and 999 creditors. Typically, companies file for Chapter 11 protection so they can reorganize or restructure debt. Robert Lampl, the chain's attorney, says Max & Erma's filed primarily because of money it owes to National City Bank.

Tracy Coats, spokesman for Max & Erma's owner Gary Reinert, Sr. of Pittsburgh, says ironically, the restaurants are profitable.