Kings Family Restaurants closes 5 locations including Harmar, Wexford
Renee Hardy was shocked to find the Harmar Kings Family Restaurant closed Monday afternoon.
“We had been eating here two to three times a week. The food was good and the service was great,” the Cheswick resident said.
On Sunday night, five Kings were closed, including the Harmar location. The others are in Wexford, Imperial, Bridgeville and Altoona.
Kelly Companies of North Versailles, which bought the Kings franchise two years ago, said Monday the five closed locations were rented buildings that had expiring leases.
“The five stores were under a lease, and all five leases expired. It was a business decision,” said Nick Hrehovchak, vice president of operations at Kelly. “The remaining 25 restaurants will be stronger.
“We couldn't reach agreement. That's all we're going to say,” Hrehovchak said of the leases.
Hartley C. King, who started the popular chain in 1967, retained ownership of the buildings that housed the five closed restaurants and leased them to Kelly.
“They (Kelly) asked for a reduction in the lease, and I accommodated them for one year. Then they wanted two more years,” King said Monday.
King, who is in his 80s, said he wanted to maintain local ownership of the restaurant chain, but no local buyers stepped forward, so he sold it to Kelly.
King said he wants to sell or lease the five locations now vacant.
“I have been inundated by phone calls from people who want to buy or lease,” he said.
The 130 employees who lost their jobs may relocate to other Kings if there are openings, retire or look for another job, Hrehovchak said.
“All will receive good referrals if they choose to go elsewhere,” he said. “This was a difficult but right decision.”
Hrehovchak said the company has no plans to close the remaining 25 locations.
Customers driving to the restaurant off Freeport Road for lunch Monday were surprised.
“I'm a new mom, and (a friend) said ‘let's go get lunch' and this is my first opportunity,” said Moriah McMunn of Springdale.
“I love it,” said Ashley Celender of Arnold, McMunn's friend. “The people were good.”
“It's a shame,” said Denny Criss of O'Hara. “I came here for liver and onions. Not many serve it anymore,” she said before getting directions to the Kings location in New Kensington. It's not yet known what the closures will mean for local school district and government coffers.
Allegheny Valley School District has received about $22,000 a year in property taxes from the Harmar location. Harmar Township received about $3,700 for the 2016 tax year, township tax collector Jim DiPalma said.
The Wexford restaurant in Marshall Township had paid about $25,200 annually in property tax to the North Allegheny School District and about $1,988 to Marshall, township manager Neil D. McFadden said.
“Of course, the property and restaurant still have value. Hopefully, someone else will move in,” McFadden said.
The Kings chain averages 500,000 customers a month and employs almost 1,000 people, according to a press release from the company. Kelly Companies operates more than 100 restaurants in 22 states under five brand names and employs more than 4,500 people.
Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711 or email@example.com.