No more Whoppers

Burger King closes in New Ulm

NEW ULM — Burger King shift lead Ashley Peterson was busy helping clean up the former Burger King restaurant at Broadway and 20th Street South Wednesday.

When she wasn’t doing that, she was telling customers who drove up to the restaurant that it was no longer open for business.

“Speaking for all the employees, we were blind-sided. We didn’t think this was going to happen. We just found out yesterday (Tuesday),” said Peterson, who said she’s worked at Burger King for three and one-half years.

“There’s nothing more we can do unless someone else buys the store,” Peterson added.

Burger King in New Ulm had 15 employees, 13 part-time workers and a full-time general manager and assistant manager,” she said.

Staff photos by Fritz Busch A sign in the New Ulm Burger King drive-through reads that the restaurant is no longer open for business Wednesday.

“I loved the job,” Peterson said.

“I’m cleaning up here until Sunday, (Oct. 1) and getting everything ready to sit for a length of time,” she added.

Peterson is also a personal care attendant in New Ulm. She has three teenage children.

Signs on the Burger King entrance door and in the drive through read: “To our valued customers: We regret to inform you that this restaurant is no longer open for business. Thank you for your support. Burger King Management.”

Another door sign read: “Thank you so much for making our days and nights worth working for. We appreciate every single one of you!! We hope to see you all again soon. Until then, have a great day!” Your BK team.

Many first learned about the businesses closing due to the sign being shared to the New Ulm Strong Facebook group.

The closure comes as major franchisee Meridian Restaurants Unlimited filed for bankruptcy in March, putting their 116 Burger King locations across the U.S. in jeopardy.

In April, the franchisee announced they would be closing nine Burger Kings across Minnesota, but New Ulm was not on the list. Locations on the initial list included Alexandria, East Grand Forks, Fergus Falls, Litchfield, Willmar, Long Prairie, Montevideo, Redwood Falls, and Moorhead. According to an article published April 11 by Restaurant Business Online journalist Jonathan Maze, more closings such as this were a distinct possibility but they were working to keep locations open.

“The franchisee is also leaving open the possibility of more closures ahead, saying ‘it is possible, if not likely,’ further analysis suggests more closures are ‘appropriate,'” Maze quoted Meridian. “But the company in a filing said it doesn’t anticipate closing ‘all or even a substantial portion of their restaurants.”

Meridian and its advisers are negotiating rent concessions and operational improvements with landlords.

“It will be in the debtors’ best interest not to conduct store closings at most of its locations,” the company said in a filing.”

The Burger King closing is another blow to the business section near Hiawatha Pioneer Trail and 20th Street South, after Target closed its doors early in 2015. A blockade was recently put up outside the Target parking lot. This made it impossible for truckers or anyone else to use it. It is also another lost option for travelers swinging through for fast food.


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