Route 17 Burger King to reopen

Published 6:39 pm Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Burger King restaurant on Bridge Road is undergoing major renovations to reopen as a corporate store in the next few months. The eatery is expected to bring about 50 jobs.

The Burger King on the corner of Route 17 and Bennetts Pasture Road will be up and running soon.

The restaurant, which was abruptly closed in 2008, is scheduled to re-open at 2925 Bridge Road under new ownership within a few months, according to Michelle Miguelez, a communication manager at the Burger King Corp.

“We’re certainly excited to see another use for the building come back in,” said Kevin Hughes, Suffolk’s director of economic development. “We know the business can be successful there.”

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The 2,418-square feet building will bring about 50 jobs, according to Miguelez.

The restaurant is currently under renovation to include many of the company’s modern designs including a lighted roof; red parapet lights to mimic flames, a nod to the restaurant’s flame-broiled products; a state-of-the-art digital menu board; a curved, bar-style seating area; and an enhanced drive-thru experience with a digital preview board.

The King’s new home in Suffolk also features the Duke Flexible Batch Broiler, which maximizes cooking flexibility and allows for a broader menu selection while reducing operational and energy costs.

Gas consumption and related costs have been reduced by 52 percent compared to previous broilers, Miguelez said, while the consumption and cost of electricity will be reduced by 90 percent.

The Bennett’s Creek Burger King was one of two restaurants in North Suffolk formerly owned by Azhar Holding Co. The other was located at the intersection of Towne Point Road and College Drive. The two Burger Kings, along with four others in Windsor, Franklin, Smithfield and Chesapeake, shut down in October 2008 after the owners, Samina and Sarmed Azhar, failed to pay several months’ worth of meals taxes to all five localities.

The debts totaled more than $100,000, about $20,000 of which was owed to Suffolk. The owners were charged with operating without a business license.

The cash registers and safes were seized at the Suffolk stores, and the proceeds from the auction of the stores’ personal property covered the remaining balance owed to Suffolk by the Azhars.

Azhar appeared in court in 2009 and agreed to pay delinquent meals taxes in exchange for suspended jail sentences. But officials said the payments stopped in the fall.

Samina Azhar was subsequently arrested in Texas earlier this year for her failure to pay up.

After her arrest, Isle of Wight Commonwealth’s Attorney Wayne Farmer said Azhar paid the back taxes — more than $12,000 to Windsor and nearly $10,000 to Smithfield. Franklin City Attorney Taylor Williams said that Azhar had mailed a $10,000 cashier’s check to the city, but she still owes that city $64,000.