Hale and Hearty, the bankrupt chain of counter-service soup and salad restaurants, is back in business. The company, started in 1990 by Jonathan Schnipper — an owner of the Schnipper’s burger chain and a partner in George Motz’s Hamburger America — will mount a comeback under new owners, who purchased the rights to the business and its recipes for $770,000, court documents show.
Hearty Acquisitions, a company that operates under the umbrella of kosher caterer Mauzone Food Service, closed the deal on the acquisition earlier this month, half a year after Hale and Hearty declared bankruptcy amid lawsuits from landlords and food suppliers alleging hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills.
Under Mauzone, the counter-service chain will open Hale and Hearty push carts and kiosks across the city, and packaged versions of its soups will soon be sold from grocery stores. None of the chain’s previous storefronts, which closed ahead of the company filing for bankruptcy last fall, will reopen as part of the deal.
“I believe in the brand,” says Marty Levin, chief operating officer of Hearty Acquisitions. “It has a name in New York.”
Back in the ’90s, Schnipper started the company as a health food store called Hale and Hearty on the Upper East Side, and by 1995, he and his brother Andrew changed the name to Hale and Hearty Soups. In 2006, they sold the company to Simon Jacobs, who grew the brand into a sizable chain of soup shops. At its peak, it numbered 32 locations.
Cracks started to show in 2015 after New York required businesses to raise their minimum wages. “There will be widespread economic consequences, from bankruptcy to reduced hiring to reduced expansion,” Simon wrote in a letter to the Wall Street Journal at the time. By 2017, nine of his soup shops had closed.
Legal complaints had started to pile up before the pandemic, but a downturn in office workers spelled the end of the New York City soup brand. One of its locations, in downtown Manhattan, was the subject of two lawsuits — one from food vendor Chefs’ Warehouse and another from its landlord — alleging more than $500,000 in unpaid rent and food costs.
Hale and Hearty abruptly closed its 16 remaining locations in July, and sold its soup production facility in Brooklyn to Mauzone in September, Crain’s New York Business reports. Mauzone acquired the rights to Hale and Hearty’s soup recipes earlier this year — after being sued by the chain for using them without permission.