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Planet Hollywood Owner Has Expansion Plans For Bertucci’s

Bertucci's has been acquired by Planet Hollywood's founder, who plans to grow the chain in key markets.

One of Greater Boston’s most popular casual Italian restaurant chains is poised to expand its local reach, thanks to a little help from Hollywood.

Northboro-based Bertucci’s filed for bankruptcy in April after it couldn’t pay rent at many of its locations and was faced with years of dwindling sales. It immediately shuttered 15 restaurants on the East Coast, including six in Massachusetts. But the owner of Planet Hollywood and Buca di Beppo bought the Italian chain for a little over $20M and is now on a quest to expand its footprint within the region, the Boston Herald reports

“It’s very expandable,” Bertucci’s new owner, Planet Hollywood founder and CEO Robert Earl, told the Herald. “I feel it’s been untapped in different forms it could be, including just doing the pizza by itself.”

Earl, who also owns the Earl of Sandwich chain, is exploring options downtown for a flagship Bertucci’s as well as more restaurant locations in the area. He doesn’t plan on bringing the brand to new parts of the U.S., but he does guarantee the chain’s popular dinner rolls will survive any future changes to the menu.

Bertucci’s, which once had over 100 restaurants in the Northeast, has 58 after the April closings. Analysts attribute its problems to the shift in consumer demand from casual sit-down, family-friendly chains to fast-casual brands with a penchant for fresh ingredients like Sweetgreen and Dig Inn. Even Bertucci’s Italian, brick-oven sector has been infiltrated locally from the rise of pizza companies like Oath and Otto. 

Bertucci’s new owner told the Wall Street Journal he planned to keep the company’s management intact, as most were new to the company. Bertucci CEO Brian Wright joined the company in July 2016.