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Utah-based Meridian Restaurants Unlimited LC, a Burger King franchisee, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Burger King franchisee Meridian files Chap. 11 bankruptcy

Utah-based company operates about 120 burger restaurants in nine states

Meridian Restaurants Unlimited LC, a Utah-based Burger King franchisee with nearly 120 restaurants in nine states, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the second large-scale franchisee of the burger brand to do so this year.

South Ogden, Utah-based Meridian, a limited liability company that also franchises Black Bear Diner full-service units not involved in the case, filed its petition on March 2 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Utah District in Salt Lake City.

Meridian has restaurants in Arizona, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

Burger King has announced a franchisee-endorsed two-year plan to invest in its U.S. system, and company spokesperson said in a statement late Wednesday: "Over the next year or so, we anticipate a few franchisees will likely leave the system or look to reposition their portfolios for future success. We will proactively manage those transitions — and for those leaving the system, will work to ensure the restaurants are ultimately owned by high-performing franchisees and other proven operators from the restaurant industry."

Salt Lake City, Utah-based Polar Star Capital Partners, a private-equity firm, acquired a controlling interest in Meridian Restaurants Unlimited in 2018.

Earlier this year, subsidiaries of an Illinois-based Burger King franchisee, one of the largest in the brand’s U.S. system, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at units operating about 90 restaurants.

Bloomberg Law at the time reported that Chapter 11 filings submitted by TOMS King Holdings LLC’s operating subsidiaries included about $35.5 million in secured debt to Bank of America. Another $14 million of unsecured debt was held by vendors, landlords and Burger King Corp., according to filings.

Toronto-based Restaurant Brands International Inc., franchisor of the Burger King concept, in September announced a $400 million “Reclaim the Flame” plan to invest in its U.S. BK system. Restaurant Brands International also owns the Tim Hortons, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Firehouse Subs brands.

Update March 8, 2023: This story has been edited to include a statement from Burger King Corp.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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