On the brink: Sbarro braces for the great shopping mall recession

Pizza and pasta: on the great laminated menu of American comfort foods, they rank just below cheeseburgers and a notch above burritos. No American restaurant chain may be more closely associated with red-sauce favorites than Sbarro. Based in Melville, New York, Sbarro has nearly 1,100 restaurants in 45 countries, But after decades of worldwide expansion, the company, founded by Italian immigrants in Brooklyn half a century ago, may have to cool its ovens for good.

Sbarro's fate is largely tethered to the success of shopping malls -- and the malls have been devastated by the economic downturn. Same-store sales in the nation's malls were down 6.5 percent for the year ended March 31, as budget-conscious consumers increasingly stayed home.