Another 27 Burger King Restaurants Are Slated for Imminent Closure
Burger King's growing business woes don't seem to have an end in sight. The latest blow to the fast-food giant was set in motion when Burger King franchisee Meridian Restaurants Unlimited filed for bankruptcy in March, casting a shadow of uncertainty on the future of its roughly 120 locations. Now, the operator's restaurants are starting to meet their fate and some are closing their doors.
Meridian has revealed in court filings that it is closing 27 Burger King locations across Minnesota, Utah, Montana, Kansas, Nebraska, and North Dakota, Restaurant Business Magazine reported. The company hasn't ruled out closing even more restaurants further down the road, though it said it doesn't expect to shutter "all or even a substantial portion" of its locations.
When Meridian declared bankruptcy last month, it blamed its financial issues on drops in foot traffic and revenue over the last several years. Plus, the operator said it didn't see any relief in terms of rent, debt service, and liabilities, even as costs for food and other commodities soared.
To top it all off, some of the restaurants that Meridian acquired had been underperforming from the start and continued to operate at a loss. This resulted in an inability to meet financial obligations in a timely manner, the franchisee said.
Meridian and its financial advisors are now in talks about rent concessions and operational improvements with landlords, Restaurant Business Magazine reported. But only time will tell if the franchisee's financial problems will end with the 27 restaurant closures.
Meridian was the second major Burger King franchisee to declare bankruptcy in 2023, following Toms King Holdings' Chapter 11 filing in January. Like Meridian, Toms King said that it suffered financially from declining foot traffic and revenue, as well as elevated food and commodity costs. The vast majority of Toms King's 90 restaurants are set to be saved since four buyers have agreed to purchase 82 of the locations.
Another franchisee, EYM King, is also permanently closing 26 restaurants in Michigan by mid-April due to a dispute with Burger King, which accused the operator of failing to pay required royalties, ad fund payments, and other charges.
After seeing lagging sales in comparison to competitors in recent years, Burger King has been working to improve its brand and restaurants through a $400 million "Reclaim the Flame" investment campaign. The company reported notable gains in same-store sales and customer satisfaction in the final quarter of 2022, but the recent spate of bankruptcies and closures indicates that it can't rest on its laurels just yet.