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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Carlsbad-based Rubio's files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Rubio's began as a walk-up taco stand in Mission Bay in 1983.

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Rubio's Coastal Grill filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday, according to legal documents. The Carlsbad-based chain known for its fish tacos filed in Delaware.

Rubio's began as a walk-up taco stand in Mission Bay in 1983 and is popular among locals today. 

Jose Barroso brought his son to Rubio's for dinner Monday night - a treat for both of them.

"We love Rubio's," said Barroso. "Been coming to Rubio's since I was his age - he's 8 years old - and it's great, great food." 

His son Emilio agreed ordering a signature Rubio's fish taco. 

The fare at the casual dining restaurant has expanded over time to include some exotic dishes. 

News 8's Jeff Zevely shared a feast with co-founder Ralph Rubio last year in the Zevely Zone; celebrating the man who changed local taste buds after countless surfing trips to Baja while he attended San Diego State. 

But what got him started down this path was when he first bit into a fish taco. It was a life-changer and that became the signature item on his menu. 

"My first fish taco experience was in San Felipe on the Sea of Cortez," Rubio told News 8 in 2019. 

Now, 200 restaurants and 200-million fish tacos later, Rubio's is facing challenges. 

“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Rubio’s,” Rubio said in a statement.

The chain has closed 26 restaurants; and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Lenders are already on board and Rubio remains optimistic. 

“This restructuring plan creates the long-term financial stability we need,” the co-founder's statement continued. 

Melissa Kibler, the Chief Restructuring Officer, authorized the debtor request.

Golub Capital, the company’s pre-bankruptcy secured lender, has agreed to provide an $8-million loan to help Rubio’s cover expenses during bankruptcy. Private equity firm Mill Road Capital, which owns Rubio’s, has agreed to provide an additional $6 million of equity financing as part of its bankruptcy plan, court papers show, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

The case is Rubio’s Restaurants Inc., 20-12688, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.