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ORLANDO-CNL Restaurant Properties Inc., almost drowning in red ink after posting a 2001 loss of $24.4 million, is settling a $3 million rent debt with Roadhouse Grill by agreeing to accept a five-year, 5% promissory note from the 73-unit Pompano Beach, FL-based restaurant chain.

The settlement clears the way for Roadhouse Grill to emerge from Chapter 11 protection in September. A South Florida U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge accepted the company’s reorganization plan this week.

Ayman Sabi, the chain’s CEO, told the court the plan agrees to pay off its total $48 million debt in full by offering creditors either a five-year unsecured note or an eight-year secured note.

Sabi blames CNL for forcing the South Florida firm into bankruptcy protection in April of this year after other creditors purportedly agreed to longer debt pay-off terms.

CNL, likewise, blames Roadhouse Grill and two other clients, Phoenix Restaurant Group Inc. and Houlihan’s Restaurant Group, for allegedly defaulting on rent payments, triggering the $24.4 million loss a year ago.

In a prepared statement, Sabi says the company’s emergence from Chapter 11 in four months is “a major accomplishment.”

He says, “now that we are free from the distractions of bankruptcy court, we are extremely excited to be able to totally refocus on our business, our guests and on continuing to implement our plans, which we had begun prior to being forced into this action.”

Sabi and his associates told the court they will be investing $5 million in new capital, up from $3.5 million initially proposed. When it filed the Chapter 11 petition, Roadhouse showed a nine-month loss of $12.8 million.

Roadhouse Grill’s largest creditor, Finova Capital of Scottsdale, AZ, is owed $30.1 million. About $25 million is secured by Roadhouse assets, including the trademark, according to Finova’s Orlando lawyer, Denise D. Dell of Akerman Senterfitt & Eidson.

Roadhouse’s three metro Orlando properties are at 1870 State Road 436, Casselberry, FL; 3789 S. Kirkman Road and 2881 S. Orange Ave., both in Orlando.

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