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Burger King restaurant closing on Elmwood near Bidwell Tim Hortons and Dunkin' Donuts are potential tenants for the site

A Syracuse-based restaurant company is closing its Burger King restaurant on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo's Elmwood Village this weekend.

The fast-food eatery at 947 Elmwood Ave., near Bidwell Parkway, will close on Sunday after an 18-year run.

Carrols Corp., the franchisee for Burger King in upstate New York, did not return phone calls regarding the decision to shut down. However, a restaurant employee confirmed the scheduled closing and said another food operation will take over the site.

The property's owner, Insured Income Properties, of Phoenix, could not be reached to comment on the impending changes.

Justin Azzarella, executive director of the Elmwood Village Association, said his group has no direct information about the future of the site. But, Tim Hortons and Dunkin' Donuts have both been mentioned as potential tenants. Neither have made public any plans for the Elmwood Avenue area.

"We don't know specifics, but because it is currently a fast-food restaurant site with a drive-through, the speculation is that's what will replace Burger King," Azzarella said. "We've heard both Tim Hortons and Dunkin' Donuts have been interested in opening on Elmwood."

Due to "Special District" restrictions, which limit the number of restaurant and bar operations in the Elmwood Village, any new food or drink establishment would be required to air its plans before the Buffalo Common Council.

If plans will require replacement of the existing restaurant building, any new structure exceeding 2,500-square-feet would also require special approvals, beyond the normal city planning and permit process.

Azzarella said he has concerns about the amount of traffic that would be generated by either one of the fast-expanding coffee and doughnut chains.

"They are both so popular," he said. "I can't imagine how that section of Elmwood could handle the number of vehicles that Tim's or Dunkin' Donuts attract to their drive-throughs."

Azzarella said the Elmwood Village board has yet to take a formal position on the future of the Burger King site because of a lack of confirmed information.

"We want to work with businesses and that's a key location," he added.

Businesses and residents along the "Elmwood Strip" have historically been lukewarm about national chains setting up shop in the neighborhood. When the Wendy's restaurant chain proposed building an eatery at 947 Elmwood Ave. in the early 1980s, it faced significant opposition, but gained city approval and opened in 1983.

Wendy's closed and was replaced by Burger King in 1989. In the past few years, Carrols Corp. closed Burger King restaurants at 2635 Bailey Ave. and 495 Main St. in Buffalo, and at Main Street and Bailey Avenue, on the Buffalo/Town of Amherst border, along with units in Cheektowaga and Orchard Park.

Carrols continues to own and operate some 300 Burger King eateries in 12 states, including more than 20 in the Buffalo area.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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