After seeing lagging sales in recent years and being unseated by Wendy's as the second-largest burger chain in America, things have been looking up for Burger King lately. Thanks to initiatives like a $400 million investment campaign aimed at enhancing its brand and restaurants, Burger King reported promising increases in same-store sales and customer satisfaction in the final quarter of 2022. It also recently added several exciting items to the menu, including the returning Whopper Melts and brand-new Spicy Chicken Fries.
Unfortunately, the fast-food giant has just hit a new bump on the road. A Burger King franchisee filed a notice last week that it plans to close 26 restaurants in Michigan by mid-April, eliminating 424 jobs as a result.
The franchisee, EYM King, is also permanently ceasing operations in the state, a move it attributed to an "unforeseen business circumstance and not being able to reach a resolution with Burger King Corporation."
What was this "unforeseen business circumstance"? According to Restaurant Business Magazine, Burger King recently sued the franchisee for allegedly failing to pay required royalties, ad fund payments, and other charges. The notice from EYM King, which was sent to the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity on March 22, said that it began closing stores on March 17 and plans to finish the closures on or around April 15.
Burger King was operating about 288 restaurants in Michigan as of March 13 this year, according to the data company ScrapeHero, but the closures of EYM King's locations means that this number will likely be lower once April 15 passes. Many of the closing restaurants are located in Detroit, unfortunately for Burger King fans in the area. Customers can find a full list of the closing locations on the notice filed by EYM King.
EYM King was part of the larger EYM Group, which operates restaurants for several other major restaurant brands like Denny's and KFC. The EYM King website does not appear to be operational currently, and the EYM Group website no longer lists Burger King as one of its brands.
EYM King is not the first Burger King franchisee to encounter trouble this year, two other major operators filed for bankruptcy in 2023 in an effort to fix their financial woes. Corner Bakery, a Popeyes franchisee, and a McDonald's franchisee have also joined the trend of bankruptcy filings this year.