Formica Brothers, the 99-year-old company which makes bread for some of Atlantic City’s most famous sandwich shops, has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
The bankruptcy was forced by two lawsuits filed after workplace accidents, said former owner Frank Formica in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The business was founded in 1919 by Frank Formica’s grandfather and grand-uncle and became a fixture on Arctic Avenue in Ducktown.
“It’s sad,” said Formica. “It’s tragic. This is my grandfather, my grandparents and my parents, and my family. We are being forced into this situation. I’m 67 years old. It’s not exactly my exit strategy.”
But Formica Brothers bread will still be made, at least for the time being. A local food manufacturer has leased the name, and 67 of the bakery’s 71 current employees will be retained, the Inquirer reported. Formica Brothers will still provide bread for more than 280 shops, including White House and Sack-O-Subs.
The company faced two $5 million lawsuits brought by injured employees. In 2015, one worker’s hand was crushed by a bread-making machine. In 2016, another employee’s arm was amputated below the elbow after it was caught in a mobile conveyor. The Chapter 7 filing — which listed the company’s assets at $675,416 and its liabilities at $5,740,436 — should discharge the suits.
The long-term economic situation in Atlantic City also contributed to the bankruptcy, said Formica, a Republican freeholder-at-large for Atlantic County. The area “has never become healthy or whole” after the 2008 recession, 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, and the closure of five casinos around 2014, he told the Press of Atlantic City.
Formica Brothers is the latest of several longtime Atlantic City businesses to declare bankruptcy in recent years, including Tony’s Baltimore Grill. “Every iconic business has suffered from the downturn of economy,” Formica said in the Inquirer. “The foreclosure rate in Atlantic County is the highest in the country. We had a loss of 35,000 jobs, 5 casino closings. That took a toll on us.”
Pat McKenna, a local food manufacturer and new leaseholder of the Formica Brothers name and recipe, said the bread will be made the same way. “If it’s not made in Atlantic City, it’s not ‘Atlantic City bread’,” he told the Press. “I’m told it’s the water.”