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Perkins cites franchise fee lapses in Amherst and Niagara closings

Two local Perkins restaurants are closing because of lapses in franchise payments by their owner, according to a spokeswoman for the national chain.

The Perkins Restaurant & Bakery locations in Amherst and the Town of Niagara, each with about 20 employees, will serve their last meals Sunday.

The Restaurant Group, which owns both locations, announced Monday that it was being forced by Perkins & Marie Callender's LLC to suddenly close its franchises for no known reason.

But Perkins said the Rochester-based company had violated the payment and operation terms of its license agreements.

"The decision to terminate a license agreement is never taken lightly and is only taken when there is no other option," Perkins spokeswoman Vivian H. Brooks said in an email.

According to Brooks, the group had fallen behind on its franchise fees and failed to adhere to the chain's operating standards.

"The Restaurant Group was given every opportunity to cure its defaults under the terms of our agreements," Brooks said, "and despite our ongoing efforts and hopes over the past year that The Restaurant Group would rectify the situation, we are obliged to protect the Perkins brand, and we made the decision to terminate our agreements."

Philip C. Gelsomino II, who is the CEO, co-owner and operator of the group, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

When he announced the closings Monday, Gelsomino said that his restaurants were profitable. His company had paid a total of $7.5 million to the chain in its 12 years as a franchisee, he said, and it operated its various locations according to the chain's standards.

Gelsomino also said he was blindsided by the chain's decision because Perkins had only notified him in a letter last week.

But Brooks said the agreements were terminated March 30.

"This was not a sudden decision, but one that has been discussed with The Restaurant Group for quite some time," she said.

The company is a franchisee of Perkins units for Central and Western New York. The loss of the two restaurants -- on Transit Road in Amherst and on Military Road in the Town of Niagara -- will mark the second snd third Perkins closings in the area this year. In January, the Perkins on McKinley Parkway in Hamburg, also owned by the group, went out of business, but Brooks said that closing was solely the group's decision.

Gelsomino said Monday that most of the 40 part-time employees at the Amherst and Niagara locations will be hired by other restaurants.