Abner’s Famous Chicken Tenders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 28, according to the Northern District of Mississippi Bankruptcy Court. The petition was filed voluntarily, citing assets and liabilities of $1 million to $10 million.
Recognized as the 12th-fastest-growing company in Mississippi by the Mississippi Business Journal in 2004, Abner’s was opened by former Ole Miss football player Abner White and has since become a landmark for students in Oxford. The first location was opened on Lamar Boulevard off the Square in 1993. A second location was opened on Jackson Avenue in 2000.
White said that no branches will close since filing for bankruptcy.
“Nothing’s going to close,” White said. “Our sales last year were up compared to the year prior, and our sales this year are up compared to last year.”
White’s attorney, Craig Geno, reiterated that no businesses would close as part of the bankruptcy.
“There are no plans to close any of the existing stores subject to bankruptcy court approval and how the bankruptcy process plays out,” Geno said.
Aside from its locations on Jackson Avenue and off the Square, Abner’s currently has locations in Starkville, Tupelo and Brandon, as well as a sixth location in Cordova, Tenn. Another location was opened in Madison but has since been shut down.
White explained that filing for Chapter 11 protection only affects a few branches. He said that filing for bankruptcy protection was part of a negotiation with a bank regarding the former Madison location.
“We’re trying to negotiate with a creditor,” White said. “We are having a hard time doing that. They made this my only option.”
Geno explained that the negotiation also deals with one of the Oxford locations.
“That was dealing with a store in Madison,” Geno said. “They have some leftover debt attached to one of the stores in Oxford, and how much we pay on that and at what interest rates and at what terms are the subject of the negotiations we are going through.”
Some of the negotiations have already been resolved, according to Geno. He said they are working to complete parts of negotiations that are still open.
“There will be some extension negotiation with one or two of the major creditors,” Geno said. “Most of the secure creditor claims have already been resolved, but there are one or two claims that are still open that we are still working on.”
White said he is looking forward to several more years of Abner’s being in Oxford.
“I am blessed that we have been a part of the Oxford community for two decades, and we look forward to being there for many more years,” White said. “We are excited about some new ideas … that we will roll out later this year.”
– Kylie McFadden and Allison Slusher