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BK franchisee group voices support for extended-hours challenge

KENNESAW Ga. Burger King’s National Franchisee Association said Tuesday that it “unequivocally supports” the three franchisees who are suing franchisor Burger King Corp. over the chain’s mandate that all U.S. units extend their operating hours.

The plaintiffs assert that keeping restaurants open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday nights and starting breakfast service at 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday are exposing the operators to economic hardship. The suit also alleges that the extended hours could put the safety of staff and patrons at significant risk. It seeks to make the extended hours a recommendation, not a requirement.

Burger King Corp. said in a statement late last month that longer operating hours are necessary to keep the brand competitive with other quick-service chains. A number of competitors, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Taco Bell, have lengthened their business days in recent years.

The franchisor also asserted that it has a right to require extended hours under its current contracts with franchisees.

The NFA disagrees. “The position of the NFA has always been that we are not against extended hours, but that the franchisor does not have the enforceable right to mandate extended hours,” association chairman Joseph Anghelone said in yesterday’s statement. “Therefore, the franchisor should recommend, but not mandate, extended hours.”

The group said it represents 1,200 of Burger King’s franchisees.

Miami-based Burger King Corp. said in its statement that the vast majority of franchisees support extended hours. About 6,350 of the chain’s 7,200 domestic units are franchised, the company said.

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