Burger King Corporation and La-Van Hawkins UrbanCityFoods LLC announced yesterday that they have reached an agreement where all litigation and other disputes between the parties will be dismissed or resolved and La-Van Hawkins UrbanCityFoods will sell its 23 BURGER KING® restaurants in the Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta areas to Burger King Corporation. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Representatives of both companies said the transactions will be completed on a staggered schedule over the next several weeks allowing for a smooth transition with minimal disruption at the restaurant level.
“We are extremely pleased to have resolved our differences with Mr. Hawkins and that we have structured an agreement that will allow for an orderly turn-over of the restaurants,” said Barry Blum, chief legal counsel for Burger King Corporation. “It is our hope that none of these restaurants will be closed for more than 72 hours and that as many staff members as possible will remain with the new management.”
Blum said that Burger King Corporation is expected to retain ownership of the five restaurants in Atlanta and plans to re-franchise the remaining restaurants in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Detroit and Baltimore to existing franchisees.
“Mr. Hawkins is very pleased with the resolution of the matter and is glad that he and his staff can now concentrate on running their other highly successful businesses,” said trial lawyer Willie Gary of Gary, Williams, Parenti, et al., and Alex L. Parrish of Detroit’s Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, who negotiated the settlement on behalf of La-Van Hawkins UrbanCityFoods LLC. They noted that a key aspect of the settlement is that the restaurants will remain open to serve their communities.
La-Van Hawkins became a Burger King franchisee in 1996. Hawkins’ companies, some of the nation’s largest African-American-owned enterprises, own and operate restaurant businesses in several states including approximately 100 Pizza Hut® restaurants and kiosks in the State of Michigan. Gary and Parrish noted that Hawkins, originally from one of Chicago’s most disadvantaged areas, started his career in the restaurant business as a teenaged maintenance employee and rapidly progressed to manage one of the industry’s highest volume restaurants at the age of 17. He has received countless awards for his community service and commitment including President Bill Clinton’s Reginald Lewis Entrepreneur Award.
Burger King Corporation created the American icon, the HOME OF THE WHOPPER®, in 1957. The Company and its franchisees operate more than 11,310 restaurants in all 50 states and 57 countries and international territories around the world, with more than 92% of BURGER KING® restaurants owned and operated by independent franchisees. Since the company’s founding in Miami in 1954, the BURGER KING® brand has become recognized for great flame-broiled taste and HAVE IT YOUR WAY® food customization. In fiscal year 2000, the BURGER KING® system has system-wide sales of $11.4 billion. Burger King Corporation is a part of Diageo (NYSE: DEO – news), the international food and drinks company, that includes such brands as Pillsbury, Haagen Dazs, and Guinness. To learn more about the BURGER KING® system, please visit the company’s website at www.burgerking.com.