The fluorescent tubes that normally back light the menu behind the counter of the Burger King in Kenai Plaza blazed as usual Tuesday afternoon, however, the menu had been taken down, the doors were locked, and no one was home.
The Burger King restaurants in Kenai and Soldotna have closed, along with 13 other locations in the Anchorage, Fairbanks and Mat-Su areas, while the franchise changes ownership, said current owner Larry Baker.
Baker, who brought the first Burger King to Alaska 28 years ago, is retiring and has sold the stores to an Anchorage investment group.
The stores will remain closed for at least seven to 10 days, until the sale is final, Baker said. At that time the identity of the buyer will be made public.
An empty drive-through menu placard reflects Burger King signs at the closed, Kenai Plaza franchise.
Photo by Mark Harrison
Baker said the fate of the Kenai and Soldotna franchises as well as the other stores will be the decision of the new operators, however, he did share his opinions with them.
"I was asked for input and I've given them lots of input," Baker said.
The new owners likely will make upgrades required by the Burger King corporation, rehire employees and reopen the stores in early January; however, they could also shut some of them down, he said.
Baker said he did what he could to talk up the Kenai Peninsula locations.
"I've told them how great Soldotna is in the summer with the tourists, when you can't get into the place," he said. "And with Home Depot now on the pad in Kenai, well."
Baker, who is 61, said he decided to sell for both personal and business reasons: He was spending too much time at the office and not enough with his family; also, the $1.50 an hour raise in the state minimum wage this year was difficult to absorb.
The Burger Kings on military bases and the one in the Anchorage airport are owned by other franchisees and are not affected by Baker's retirement, The Associated Press reported.
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