BK revamped for new opening

Published 9:02 am Wednesday, June 10, 2009

FRANKLIN—Workers have been toiling in the heat both inside and outside of the city’s shuttered Burger King franchise on Armory Drive in an effort to get the structure renovated and open for business in the coming weeks.

Ryan Marsh, foreman for the Wilmington, N.C.-based construction firm Qualified Builders Inc., said his company would be installing a new roof, painting the outside of the building and making sure all of the signs are functioning. Inside, there will be a new interior and new restrooms.

Work began on the project this week. On Tuesday, workers were using a pavement saw to remove broken portions of the parking lot.

“It’s going to look outstanding,” Marsh said, adding that his company has completed renovations of Burger King restaurants in Chesapeake and Suffolk and is scheduled to update a franchise in Smithfield after finishing in Franklin. He did not know when the renovation work would be completed in Franklin.

“We’ll be here until we’re done,” Marsh said.

Denise Wilson, a spokeswoman for Burger King, said there was no timetable for when the Franklin franchise would reopen.

Burger King Corp., which is based in Miami, will be running the Franklin store, which has been closed since Oct. 24. The corporate office took over after the previous owner, Samina Azhar, had to shut the restaurant down because she could not pay the city’s meals tax.

Franklin requires restaurants in the city to collect a 6.5-percent tax on meals served. The businesses are expected to file tax returns to the commissioner of the revenue by the 20th of each month, and to pay the taxes to the treasurer by the same date.

The total meals tax revenue due to Franklin by Azhar is $64,521.28. The city is also owed $2,162.79 in business license tax revenue for 2008 and $2,544.86 in unpaid electric bills.

Azhar is due in Franklin General District Court on June 29. She faces 11 felony charges in Franklin — one for every month that the city’s meals tax went unpaid — and one misdemeanor charge of operating a business without a license.

According to court records, Azhar’s cases have been continued four times — on Feb. 2 , March 2, April 13 and May 4 — and she has retained the services of defense attorney H. Woodrow Crook Jr. of Smithfield.

The process of reopening the Franklin Burger King began on March 26, when Fulton Bank agreed to pay $7,614.27 owed by Azhar Holdings LLC after the city levied a distress warrant. The bank had foreclosed on Azhar Holdings and took possession of the property after the restaurant closed.

Azhar Holdings operated six Burger King franchises, one each in Franklin, Windsor, Chesapeake and Smithfield and two in Suffolk. All of the restaurants closed on Oct. 24.