The familiar yellow and green signage and awning remains, but the food, family-friendly atmosphere and friendship among longtime employees at the Perkins on Bolivar Drive has come to an end.
A Facebook post on the Bradford Perkins Facebook page Wednesday morning read, “It is very sad to announce that the Bradford Perkins location will be closed starting today. We have been serving the public for almost 40 years. Over the years it has been our pleasure to be part of all of your special events and thank you for sharing them with all of us! We all have Perkins Memories that we will always hold onto whether it be as a customer or a past employee. Again Thank you for supporting us and being part of our family.”
For Lee Jordan, who started his career with Perkins at the Bradford location as a teenager and was the general manager of the Bradford Perkins, the restaurant closing is sad to see.
“I have worked for Perkins for 29 years. I started at the Bradford location when I was 16, then I moved around with the company and eventually came back. Perkins itself has always been a great company to work for. Obviously. I made a career out of it.
Bradford had great employees, I have known some of the employees there since the 1980s,” Jordan said. “I’m going to miss them.”
While Perkins has not been a bad company to work for, the same cannot be said for certain franchise owners.
“The last owner — the last people that bought this franchise made some poor decisions that obviously we (the employees) have no control over,” he said. “5171 Campbells Land Co., Inc. declared bankruptcy July 5. We have known since then there was a chance if we didn’t get picked up by a different franchise owner that runs Perkins, it was a possibility that we could close.
“We learned last week — last Thursday — that we weren’t going to be picked up by JDK Management.”
Jordan said that JDK Management bought the Olean, N.Y., location and officially takes control today. He noted that Bradford employees were given the opportunity to transfer to the Olean location, and a couple of the employees from Bradford will be taking advantage of the opportunity and making the commute.
JDK Management owns more than 40 Perkins locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Florida and West Virginia.
The Bradford location is another bullet point in a continued list of closings related to bankruptcy filings by 5171 Campbells Land Co., a Meadville-based business that owned 27 Perkins franchise locations in western Pennsylvania, northeastern Ohio and southwestern New York.
CLC filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection July 8 of this year. The move impacted more than 1,000 employees at the various locations. That filing came on the heels of a lawsuit, filed against CLC in June by Perkins & Marie Callender’s LLC, of Memphis, Tenn., that alleged CLC failed to pay more than $2.1 million in various fees and franchise royalties. The franchise license held by CLC was terminated in June and a restraining order was issued requiring CLC to stop using Perkins’ signage and anything displaying the PMC trademark.
The Perkins on East State Street in Hermitage was also a victim of the closings, as the doors to that location closed at the end of August.
Meanwhile, the Perkins on W. Eighth Street in Erie’s Millcreek Township, which closed Sept. 2, also notified customers via Facebook. A portion of the post read, “Although we were not purchased through the bankruptcy sale process, the locations on Peach Street and Buffalo Road in Harborcreek have. They will remain open and it is our hope that you will come and see us at those locations under our new ownership,” according to a story by The Erie Times-News.