Bennington Burger King is closing

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BENNINGTON — The Burger King restaurant on Kocher Drive in Bennington has closed after 40 years at the location.

A post on the local restaurant's Facebook page on Tuesday stated, "Unfortunately Burger King's franchise agreement is up tomorrow. No confirmation for continuation ... Thank you all for your patronage over the years."

A subsequent post thanked the community, saying, "Thank you all for all the community support. It is truly amazing. Tomorrow being Wednesday we will run until our inventory is out."

Employees at the fast-food restaurant at 35 Kocher Drive confirmed the pending closure Wednesday afternoon.

Reached at around 7 p.m., shortly after the restaurant closed for good, General Manger and 35-year employee Susan Bushee said the food stocks had been depleted.

She said of area residents' support for the restaurant, "They really showed it over the last two days."

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Bushee referred further comment about the closure to Burger King headquarters in Florida, where company officials could not be reached as of press time.

The outlet is one of more than 200 Burger Kings reportedly deemed as underperforming and slated for closure. The chain is owned by Restaurant Brands International.

Other restaurant chains also have been reducing the number of franchises, according to news reports over the summer. These include McDonald's, Subway, Pizza Hut and Dunkn'.

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The Burger King here is located at the entrance to the 24-acre Bennington Square Shopping Center off Kocher Drive, which has lost several key tenants over the past few years, including Kmart, Radio Shack, Maurice's and Payless Shoe Source, and will soon lose Penney's, which is having a close-out sale. Jay's Hallmark Gifts in the center also recently closed its doors.

The shopping center, which was sold at auction to Mark O'Connor and Evan Portno for $750,000 in February, still retains a Staples store, Olympia Sports, Label Shopper, and a People's United Bank branch.

The new owners have said they hope to open an Ocean State Job Lots store in the former Kmart building.

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The center, with a total of 150,000 square feet of business space and two spots for new buildings, had been assessed prior to the auction at $3.65 million.

Opened in 1980

The Bennington restaurant opened in early September 1980, according to Banner files, becoming the 3,016th Burger King in the nation at that time. The new 3,000-square-foot restaurant seated about 86, featured a drive-thru window, and was planning to bring in the then-new Burger King breakfast menu.

The business operated seven days a week upon opening and employed about 80 people.

Construction of the building had begun in July 1980 under a general contractor based in Syracuse, N.Y., that had built a number of Burger King restaurants.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont, including the Bennington Banner, Brattleboro Reformer and Manchester Journal. Twitter: @BB_therrien


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