Frank Valenti, his brother Charles Valenti and two business partners have shut down their five Burger King restaurants in the St. Louis area.
Although the Valentis, their partners and Burger King Holdings Inc. are not talking, the recent closures could be a sign the franchisees have succumbed to competitive and financial pressures in a market that other Burger King franchisees say is brutal. Burger King, the nation’s second-largest hamburger chain, also recently stated that more than one-third of its franchisees in the United States and Canada have had financial difficulties.
Miami-based Burger King typically competes in most cities with McDonald’s and Wendy’s. In St. Louis, however, competition is stiffer with a large number of strong regional players, including Steak ‘n Shake, Hardee’s, White Castle, Jack in the Box, Sonic, Rally’s and others. Burger King also is fighting locally and nationally with chains such as Panera Bread Co., Subway, and Yum! Brands Inc.’s Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken for consumers’ fast food dollars.