After a short closure, Ziggie’s Cafe at 1772 S. Glenstone Ave. is back in business under new leadership.
Springfield businessman Gordon Elliott, who owns the restaurant’s licensing rights, said Jose Luis Bolanos last month relinquished his license of the South Glenstone Ziggie’s in the Lamplighter Inn & Suites Elliott owns. Bolanos is instead solely focusing his attention on his Ziggie’s in Monett, Elliott said.
Ricardo Rodriguez and his father-in-law, Daniel Hernandez, have run the Ziggie’s at 2515 N. Glenstone Ave. for five years, and now their ESBA Food Service LLC has control of the South Glenstone cafe as well.
Rodriguez said he reluctantly agreed to take over the additional restaurant after repeated requests. The eatery closed for the last few days waveof August before it changed hands, he said, to allow the previous operators to fix some “problems” inside the restaurant.
Rodriguez took over the reins Sept. 1, he said, paying $15,000 for the remaining food inventory. He said he retained some of the original staff, noting each location employs about 20 people. At the South Glenstone Ziggie’s, Rodriguez may update the interior’s appearance over time.
Elliott, who owns and operates 13 hotels in Springfield, said he purchased the Ziggie’s Cafe trademark in bankruptcy court in 2012 for $50,000. His Elliott Lodging Ltd. charges a 3 percent royalty on gross sales, he said, and has waived the $5,000 startup fee for each of the four current locations. Jose Luis Pedron, a local rental property owner, owns the other Ziggie’s restaurant at 2127 W. Republic Road cafe, according to Springfield Business Journal archives.
The Ziggie’s legacy
Elliot said the brand has performed well, despite its rocky history.
“It’s a good name,” he said.
The comfort-food franchise was founded in 1983 by Zulbehar Zendeli and reached 18 locations at its height, but fell into financial trouble. Zendeli’s son and partner, Agim Zendeli, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2010, according to previous SBJ reporting.
Agim Zendeli was sentenced in August 2016 to three years and one month in federal prison without parole and ordered to pay $1.3 million in restitution to the IRS for failing to pay federal payroll taxes.
Elliot bought the license rights in an effort to protect his hotels from disruption in service.
“I didn’t want the signage to change or to look like there was a turnover in ownership. I want consistency there,” he said.
After taking over the brand, Elliot forced Zendeli to stop using the name at the restaurant they still owned at 2222 S. Campbell Ave.
“We kicked him out,” he said.
The South Campbell eatery’s name was changed to Springfield Family Restaurant and adopted a fried egg at the top of its logo, similar to Ziggie’s signage. Three other Ziggie’s locations changed names, following Elliott’s acquisition, according to SBJ archives.
With four Ziggie’s in operation now, Elliot is in no hurry to build the chain back up.
“We’re kind of careful who we put in there,” he said of the vetting process his company uses to protect the brand from problems like it experienced in the past.
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