PITTSFIELD -- The owner of the three former Berkshire County Burger King restaurants that closed in June has defaulted on the mortgage for those properties, and the bank that holds the note has initiated foreclosure proceedings against him, according to court documents.
According to papers filed in Berkshire Superior Court, restaurant owner Richard C. George, of Pittsfield, owes mortgage holder TD Bank $2.5 million on the note for the three former Burger Kings, which are located on Merrill Road and First Street in Pittsfield, and on Route 7 in Lenox.
Mortgage defaults result when payments on the loan are not made by a specified time period. Under that circumstance, the loan is considered to be "in default" and the holder of the note has the option of taking over the property. TD Bank granted George a mortgage on the three properties in 2005, according to court documents. The original note has been amended three times, in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
George sold the First Street restaurant for $550,000 in August to 29 First Street Pittsfield LLC, according to documents on file at the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds. It was not clear how that sale affected the First Street restaurant's status in the foreclosure proceedings.
TD Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings on the properties last month, according to papers on file at the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds. The request cannot be granted until the bank files a request for default, a copy of the publication where the public notice of the default appeared, and a motion for the entry of a final decree that authorizes the foreclosure with the court by Oct. 19, Superior Court Clerk Deborah S. Capeless said.
Unlike other civil complaints, state law requires foreclosure proceedings to undergo the public notification process before the court can render a decision, Cape less said.
Attorney Emil George, of Pittsfield, who represents Richard C. George, said the bank granted the mortgage on the three properties based on the operations of the business. His client defaulted on the mortgage after the three restaurants closed in late June.
"What the bank is doing is not surprising," Emil George said. "They want to make sure that these properties are sold."
Attorney Peter L. Puciloski of Great Barrington, who represents TD Bank, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
When the three restaurants originally closed, signs left on the buildings stated that the closings would be temporary. But Burger King had re moved all of its signage from the three buildings by the middle of July.
Emil George said that interest has been expressed in all three properties, but he declined to disclose any details.
"The interest [in all three] is different," he said.
Whether Burger King is interested in re-opening any of the three restaurants under new ownership could not be determined. Burger King spokeswoman Kristin Hauser was unable to obtain that information from the company. It is believed that another burger chain is interested in at least one of the properties.
Richard C. George has been associated with Burger King for more than 30 years. He opened Pittsfield's first Burger King on Merrill Road in July 1979, and the second on First Street in December 1984. He opened the Lenox Burger King in February 1987.
The Merrill Road eatery was Burger King's first franchise in Berkshire County. The only Burger King restaurant still open in Berkshire County is located in North Adams and is run by a different franchise owner.