Sard Verbinnen is handling the Chapter 11 filing of NPC International, the nation's biggest Pizza Hut and Wendy's franchisee, as it struggles with changing consumer dining preferences, rising labor/commodities costs and heavy debt.

"These challenges have been magnified recently by the impact and uncertainty of COVID-19, and we believe it is necessary to take proactive steps to strengthen our capital structure, so we have the financial flexibility to continue to adapt to current industry trends," Jon Weber, CEO of NPC's Pizza Hut unit, said in a statement

NPC runs 1,225 Pizza Huts and 385 Wendy's restaurants in 27 states. They employ 37K people.

The company plans to keep the restaurants open for business during the Chapter 11 proceedings operating under COVID-19 recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Sard Verbinnen's Steven Goldberg, John Christiansen and Alyssa Lorenzo represent NPC.