HOULTON, Maine — All three Burger King franchises in Aroostook County permanently closed their doors on Saturday.
The move came without warning to customers and employees, but was probably long overdue, according to district manager Cathy Simpson.
“It’s just not feasible economically anymore,” Simpson said when reached by phone at the Houlton Burger King location.
The restaurants employ 70-80 people, said Kristi McAtee, the manager of the Houlton Burger King. The other two are in Caribou and Presque Isle.
Steve Wegner, the owner of the Aroostook County Burger King restaurants, had ceased profiting from the franchises some time ago, she said. Wegner was unavailable for comment.
“He’s been carrying them,” Simpson said. “He probably should have done it a few years back but he hates putting people out of jobs.”
In a letter to employees dated the day of the stores’ closure, Wegner said “challenging sales volumes and diminished profits over the past few years have made it unsustainable.”
Wegner, who also owns Burger King franchises in Orono, Hogan Road in Bangor, Rockland and Ellsworth, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed his Calais location in 2015.
Wegner has offered displaced Aroostook County employees positions at any of his other Burger King franchises, Simpson said.
“It’s not a commute. They would have to relocate,” she said.
Wegner will continue to pay health insurance for the rest of the quarter for those employees currently covered under the plan, and restaurant managers will remain employed at the current locations while they attend to final details of the closures, Simpson said.