The franchise owner of six St. Louis-area Tim Hortons shops closed all of its remaining locations Saturday afternoon, including one in O’Fallon, according to a news release on the company’s website.
The closures come just weeks after the owner closed two stores in St. Louis. In addition to the O’Fallon shop, remaining Missouri locations in St. Louis, Maplewood and Frontenac also closed Saturday, according to the release.
The popular Canada-based doughnut and coffee shop had locations on Tucker Boulevard and in the Central West End in St. Louis, both of which closed over Thanksgiving following a lawsuit claiming the company failed to fulfill its obligations to the franchise owner.
About 50 people were let go Dec. 23, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, while 24 people were out of work after the first round of closures. Eric Sigurdson, president of franchisee Show Me Hospitality, said his company has worked over the past few weeks to help employees of the St. Louis-area locations find other jobs.
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A former Canadian resident, Sigurdson said it’s “really sad” to close the stores, especially around Christmas. In a statement in November, Sigurdson said Tim Hortons’ parent company “derailed our business plan and scared off great new partners.”
Brazil-based 3G Capital acquired Tim Hortons in December 2014 through its Restaurant Brands International branch, according to Sigurdson. In addition to Show Me Hospitality’s lawsuit, an association representing multiple Tim Hortons franchise owners filed two class-action lawsuits against the parent company in Canada, Sigurdson said.
Show Me Hospitality claims its parent company demanded it open 200 Tim Hortons locations in the St. Louis area within 10 years, an increase from the originally agreed upon 40 locations over five years, according to Sigurdson. When Show Me Hospitality refused the new proposal, the parent company stopped approving new St. Louis-area Tim Hortons locations, the lawsuit alleges.
Canada-based Restaurant Brands International did not immediately reply to a request for comment Sunday morning, although the company told The (Toronto) Star in November it “strongly denies” the claims made in the lawsuit.
The O’Fallon shop at 450 Regency Park Drive opened in August 2016.
The first Tim Hortons shop opened in 1964 in Hamilton, Ontario, according to the company’s website, and the first United States location opened in 1985 in Amherst, New York. As of September 2014, the company had more than 9,000 locations in Canada, the U.S. and the Middle East.
Reporter Elizabeth Donald contributed to this report.