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Franchisee closes Burger King sites in Willmar, Litchfield, Montevideo, Redwood Falls and in Upper Midwest

Meridian Restaurants Unlimited has closed a number of Burger King sites in April after declaring bankruptcy in March.

Burger King April 14, 2023
The Burger King on U.S. Highway 12 in east Willmar permanently closed this week due to a bankruptcy filing of the owner Meridian Restaurants of Ogden, Utah.
Dale Morin / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR โ€” The owner of the east Willmar Burger King has closed the restaurant and many other locations after declaring bankruptcy.

Meridian Restaurants was founded in South Ogden, Utah, in 2002 and became one of the largest Burger King franchisees in the nation. The company declared bankruptcy in March and then closed multiple sites across the Upper Midwest and elsewhere.

Willmar's Burger King location on U.S. Highway 12 East has closed, according to signs on the door and the drive-through speaker. The sign on the door reads "Sorry! This Burger King location has permanently closed," while the outside sign simply reads "CLOSED."

Restaurant Business magazine reported this week that Meridian has closed 28 restaurants or one out of five of the company's Burger King locations, according to court filings. Meridian operates 119 Burger King, Chili's and Black Bear Diner restaurants in 10 states, according to the company's website.

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Burger King close sign Willmar
A paper "closed" sign was posted Friday, April 14, 2023, on the drive-through speaker and door at the Burger King restaurant on U.S. Highway 12 in east Willmar. The restaurant and other selected Burger King sites in the Midwest were closed this week by the franchisee Meridian Restaurants Unlimited, which declared bankruptcy in March.
Dale Morin / West Central Tribune

The building owner moving things out of the east Willmar location Friday declined to comment to the West Central Tribune. Meridian's HR office has not yet returned calls for comment.

The company's Burger King restaurant on First Street South in Willmar remains open. The company also continues to operate two Burger Kings in Moorhead and one each in Fargo, Grand Forks and West Fargo, North Dakota.

Meridian has also closed other Burger King restaurants in the Upper Midwest, including Montevideo, Redwood Falls, north Moorhead, Alexandria, Long Prairie, East Grand Forks and one in Grand Forks, North Dakota, according to the Fergus Falls Journal.

The company operates Burger King restaurants in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Arizona, according to its website.

According to Restaurant Business magazine, the company blamed food costs increasing 22% and wage rates increasing 33% over the past two years for its financial troubles.

In late March, franchisee Toms King sold 82 of its Burger King restaurants in a bankruptcy auction, according to Restaurant Dive's website. And in Michigan, EYM King closed 26 of its Burger King restaurants earlier in April, according to Eat This, Not That website.

Burger King building on U.S. Highway 12 in east Willmar
The building owner and helpers were removing items Friday from the closed Burger King store on U.S. Highway 12 in east Willmar. The franchisee Meridian Restaurants Unlimited declared bankruptcy in March.
Dale Morin / West Central Tribune

Kelly Boldan has been editor of West Central Tribune and Wctrib.com in Willmar, Minnesota, since October 2001. He joined Forum Communications Co. in November 1998 as editor of the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer.
Boldan can be reached via email: editor@wctrib.com or telephone: 320-214-4331.
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