Sid (neoengel) wrote in abandonedplaces,

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Burger King, Main St. West, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (Eh!)

Greetings, please be gentle it's my first post here. ;)

I was in the area today of something that was the subject of a news story back in Autumn 2007, here is the link for more details though they pale in comparison to experiences detailed by former employees over the years (yes, a little bit of personal experience there almost a year (whoops) decade ago ;) ).

Long story short it was a terribly run franchise that corporate swooped in and shut down 4 of them in Hamilton around August 2007 - these photos were taken this morning.

edit, I've copied the text of the news article why this one along with the other Burger King locations in the area shut down:

What's the Beef

Burger King seized its five Hamilton-area restaurants in August. Legal documents show a Whopper of a battle between the chain and longtime franchisee Ron Goswell.

Steve Arnold The Hamilton Spectator (Nov 27, 2007)

The grills are cold and the deep fryers are empty at Burger King restaurants in Hamilton's west end and on the Mountain, the result of a bitter dispute between the chain and a former franchise holder.

In August, nine restaurants worth almost $10 million, including four in Hamilton and one in Burlington, were seized by the company after the franchisee fell behind in rent, royalty and other payments.

Two here have since reopened.

For Ron Goswell, the Sudbury-based franchisee, the action ended a 28-year association with the Home of the Whopper and left him nearly ruined at a time he'd hoped to be thinking about retirement.

In court documents filed in an aborted effort to get an injunction against the seizure of the stores, Goswell pleaded he only fell behind in those payments because he took on more than $1.4 million in renovation projects at the stores -- work he alleged was encouraged by Burger King executives.

While he lost everything, Burger King "will receive a significant windfall of newly renovated stores ... paid for by the plaintiff."

In its own legal documents, Burger King alleged Goswell had failed to meet the company's standards for cleanliness, under- reported the revenue of his operations and had such a "lengthy and consistent history of payment problems," that keeping him in business "will have a serious and potentially permanent negative effect" on the brand.

Court documents contain allegations only. Nothing has been proven in court.

Locally, Goswell was king of the Whopper, holding all the local franchises, including locations on Main Street West, Centennial Parkway, Upper James Street and in Jackson Square as well as on Brant Street in Burlington. He also had two outlets in each of Sudbury and Kingston. Another location, at Centre Mall, was not Goswell's and was closed earlier.

When Burger King moved to end Goswell's franchises, he was more than $316,000 behind in payments of rent, royalties and contributions to an advertising fund.

In his court documents, Goswell said he took on his first Burger King in 1979 and stayed with the company through good times and bad. During a prolonged slump the brand endured in 1983, he slid $920,000 behind in payments, but was allowed to settle that over a period of years when good times returned. In 2005, however, the company was taken over by a consortium of hedge funds and things started to change.

"Up until 2005 the Burger King franchise system in North America had been operated as a partnership between the franchisee and franchisor. There was trust in the partnership ... ," he alleged. "Under the consortium, Burger King has engaged in an aggressive campaign of store take-backs, terminations and enforcement against long-term franchisees."

Despite souring relations, Goswell said he agreed to undertake an expensive campaign of renovations at his stores, spending $1 million in Kingston and $150,000 on the Centennial Parkway store in Hamilton. That work was financed from cash flow, by cashing in his RRSPs, borrowing from relatives and raising money in the high-risk equity market.

It all came crashing down in August when courier packages arrived at each of the Goswell locations. Thinking they were routine materials, they were opened by junior managers who were horrified to read the franchises were being terminated and they faced unemployment.

As Goswell scrambled to reassure his 200 employees, they plunged into despair, and worse -- an e-mail from a worker at the Main West location claimed staff were "stealing us blind."

Goswell claimed up to $10,000 was taken from his cash registers and a wave of managers and other workers quit or simply didn't show up for their shifts, leading to a 400 per cent increase in customer complaints.

Burger King officials tell a different story. In a court filing, Jeffrey Weinman, the company's senior development manager, alleged the Goswell stores had been suffering "serious operational and employee problems" for months before the franchises were terminated. The Centennial Parkway restaurant, Weinman alleged, was a particular problem.

An April 24 inspection found "staff appearance is not in accordance with image standards," flies in the kitchen, thawed and refrozen meat in the freezer, safety hazards and staff who hadn't been trained in handwashing.

Correcting the problems required closing the store for a day.

In a later affidavit, the executive accuses Goswell of under-reporting his own revenue by more than $387,000 between April 2005 and March 2007.

Goswell, in a brief telephone conversation, refused to comment. In an e-mail exchange, Burger King Restaurants of Canada marketing manager Cameron Loopstra said the company has reopened the Centennial Parkway and Brant Street locations, "expects to reopen other former Goswell restaurants in the near future" and will rehire some Goswell staff.

Neither he nor corporate spokesperson Keva Silversmith would comment further, citing ongoing litigation. Although he dropped his injunction effort, Goswell said in a court filing he intends to pursue the company for damages.

Burger King reported first-quarter earnings rose 23 per cent to $49 million compared with $40 million a year earlier. Revenue increased 10 per cent to $602 million.

Burger King operates more than 11,200 restaurants worldwide.


[ click photo for larger size ]

Tags: burger king, hamilton, main st., ontario

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