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Franchisee shocked by two Perkins restaurants' closing

Two of the area's three Perkins restaurants will abruptly close Sunday.

The financially troubled chain pulled its franchise licensing, leaving about 40 part-timers without jobs.

"It's a total shock, a complete surprise," said Philip C. Gelsomino II, CEO of the Restaurant Group, co-owner and operator of the Rochester-based franchisee of Perkins Restaurant & Bakery units for Central and Western New York. "I never would have imagined something like this."

Gelsomino said Perkins is putting his company out of business.

The group owns the locations on Transit Road in Amherst and on Military Road in the Town of Niagara, which employ about 20 people each. Gelsomino said the Amherst restaurant did brisk business.

"It was our top location, extremely profitable," he said."

Gelsomino said Perkins & Marie Callender's terminated its agreement with his company and only notified him in a letter last week.

"If we had six months' or three months' notice, I could have turned it into Philips Diner, a Buffalo wing joint," he said, "but that's the risk you take when you get into a franchise agreement."

Gelsomino's company's only business was Perkins, also operating locations in the Rochester area, So the company will sell its buildings and go out of business, Gelsomino said.

"The Restaurant Group will cease to exist, it will go defunct," he said.

But Gelsomino said 75 percent of employees will be placed in positions at other area restaurants.

"We've been on the phone all afternoon, and we estimate they will be absorbed into other restaurants' operations in the community. We're making phone calls and letting our competitors pick up great people that we have."

Perkins filed for bankruptcy last year and was also sold. More than 70 locations in the chain has been closed since. But Gelsomino said his stores were operating to the Perkins standards and were profitable. In its 12 years of operating Perkins restaurants, it paid more more than $7.5 million in fees to the franchisor, Gelsomino said.

He said the Buffalo-area restaurants were in prime locations -- on bustling Transit Road and Military Road, which enjoys Canadian traffic.

"I'm sure another restaurant will swoop right in those locations, both are phenomenal locations," he said. "It's very sad."

The area's other Perkins is in Olean.