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Kings Family Restaurants chain gets new owner

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Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010

After 44 years, Hartley King is selling his Kings Family Restaurants chain.

King reached a tentative agreement with Unique Ventures Group LLC, which owns franchises for 28 Perkins restaurants in northeast Ohio and northwest Pennsylvania, said Chris Whalen, vice president of finance for White Oak-based Kings.

Unique Ventures had been talking to King about buying up to six of the 34 Kings restaurants, all in Western Pennsylvania except for one eastern Ohio location. "Then they pushed an offer to buy the whole company," Whalen said Wednesday, adding final terms still are being worked out. He declined to give details.

The deal will keep the company's White Oak headquarters, with about 20 employees who work for Kings. The restaurants known for their apple pie and cinammon ice cream and Frownie brownie desserts -- along with other casual fare -- still will be called Kings.

King, who will be 77 years old next week, originally intended to use capital from selling some of the restaurants to invest in remodeling other locations in the chain, and to open some new Kings, Whalen said.

Representatives of Unique Ventures, based in Pittsburgh and with offices in Meadville, weren't available for comment.

King also couldn't be reached for comment. "He wasn't looking to sell the company, by any means," Whalen said. "This was a very tough decision on him." The deal could be completed by year's end.

Whalen and King will remain franchise partners in five local Sonic restaurants.

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