(July 19) Ground Round restaurants are coming around again.

And the new owners of the brand say that they have a plan that will give the chain nearly the breadth of the old operation.

But there’s a twist: Each restaurant will be a separate franchise, with each franchisee holding a stake in the company.

For produce suppliers who work with the restaurants, there may be more opportunities than ever for profits, the company’s chief executive officer said.

“That’s one of the nice things about our entity going forward is our entire focus is service and support to franchisees,” said Jack Crawford, who owns three Ground Rounds and heads the new entity, Ground Round Independent Owners Council LLC, in Freeport, Maine.

The co-op, a group of Ground Round franchisees that represents 70 surviving units that now operate under the banner, in June won bankruptcy court approval for its bid to obtain the chain’s franchise rights from Ground Round’s Braintree, Mass.-based parent American Hospitality Concepts Inc.

American Hospitality Concepts filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February and immediately shuttered 59 company-owned Ground Rounds, leaving only the individually owned franchise units, which continue to operate.

American Hospitality Concepts sold 37 of its closed restaurants for more than $10 million, according to DJM Asset Management LLC, Melville, N.Y., the company that was hired to sell the assets.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge William Hillman ruled that the franchisees’ $4.85 million bid would be accepted over about a $6 million bid from U.S. Restaurant Properties Inc., a Dallas-based real-estate investment trust.

Crawford said the deal would be a bargain for the bankrupt company in the long run because franchisees had pending litigation that involved $40 million in claims.

Produce suppliers looking to collect on old accounts from the chain’s former owners will be paid, although they shouldn’t expect much more than 40-60 cents on the dollar, Tractenberg said.

One longtime Ground Round produce supplier, F&B Fruit & Produce Inc., Chelsea, Mass., apparently has not been contacted about payment.

“We haven’t had much contact from anybody at Ground Round,” said Louis Fin, co-owner of the firm. “We’ve just been waiting for this to hash out. A management company had sent us information on whether we wanted to make a deal, accept like 2% of what they owed us. Our attorney looked at that and said just wait this out, that it wasn’t a Ground Round offering.”