Skippers has a new owner and a plan for growth

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The remnants of fast-food restaurant chain Skippers Seafood & Chowder, an old Pacific Northwest favorite, has been acquired by regional foodservice and convenience store distributor Harbor Wholesale from Starway Restaurants LLC.

Pricing and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Harbor Chairman Richard Jensen said his company intends to “develop the concept further in the North West and beyond. We see plenty of opportunities to bank on the fish & chips and clam chowder that Skippers is known for.

Skippers has changed a lot since filing for bankruptcy in December 2006. At the time, the chain had nearly 60 restaurants. Only five full-fledged units remain in operation, all franchised.

But the brand has found new life as a food station in convenience stores and supermarkets. About 128 of these scaled-down operations are currently underway.

Skippers brand products, including its chowder, are also sold on supermarket shelves.

The transaction marks the final turning point for Skippers, which was founded in 1969 by Herb Rosen. It quickly became known for its chowder, in direct competition with the likes of Ivar. Other specialties included a variety of fried seafood.

The brand was sold to NPC International, a major franchisee of Pizza Hut, in 1986. It would later also become a major franchisee of Wendy’s. NPC was liquidated last year, with most of the company being acquired by the restaurant industry’s largest franchisee of any brand, Greg Flynn.

Because much of its menu consisted of fried foods, Skippers lost momentum as Americans became more health conscious. It went through a variety of owners, each seeking to revive the concept, until it filed for bankruptcy. The company was liquidated in 2007.

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