Boston Market Evicted Across South Florida As Legal Troubles Mount
The rotisserie chickens have stopped spinning at South Florida’s Boston Market locations.
All of the brand’s remaining locations in the region — more than a dozen restaurants — have closed since November, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. The closures come as the brand faces legal tumult in the region and around the country as eviction notices pile up, federal and local authorities investigate, and its primary vendor has stopped food deliveries.
In November, five Broward County locations where evictions had either been granted or were proceeding through the courts closed. In Miami-Dade County, evictions were granted at seven locations this year, while another eviction case is pending.
Two Palm Beach County stores closed, including one that was seized by a landlord through an eviction and another location in West Boca where the equipment, furniture and fixtures were seized over unpaid taxes, according to the Sun Sentinel.
The chain’s troubles extend well beyond South Florida. The U.S. Department of Labor confirmed to Restaurant Business Online on Nov. 1 that it is investigating Boston Market over late and unpaid wages across the country.
Representatives for Boston Market couldn't be reached for comment.
State regulators have also been scrutinizing the company, with the New Jersey Department of Labor ordering 27 locations in the state to close in August and fining the brand $2.6M for back wages, liquidated damages and administrative damages.
The chain has been sued more than 140 times in state and federal court since it was acquired in 2020 by Engage Brands, a subsidiary of Pennsylvania-based Rohan Group of Cos., Restaurant Business Online reported.
One of Boston Market’s lawsuits is with US Foods, its primary distributor, which severed its relationship with the restaurant brand and sued in July, saying it was owed $11M. The US Foods breakup left store operators to buy stock at grocery stores to serve customers, who often noticed the shift in quality.
“They’d tell you off the bat that this wasn’t the original — especially the mac and cheese,” Lale West, a former general manager at a Boston Market in Boca Raton, told the Sun Sentinel. “I’d tell them we were cut off from our supplier, and we had to find stuff where we could.”
The company’s Boulder, Colorado, headquarters and its three remaining locations in the state were seized in May by the Colorado Department of Revenue over $329K in unpaid sales and payroll taxes that had been accumulating for over a year, The Denver Post reported.
Boston Market has been facing challenges for years, growing to 1,200 locations at its peak of popularity before ending 2022 with 300 stores, according to Technomic data reported by Business Insider.
The brand began as Boston Chicken in 1985, went public in 1993 and filed for bankruptcy in 1998. McDonald’s acquired the company in 2000 and sold it seven years later to Sun Capital Partners, which shuttered 45 locations in 2019 before selling the company to Engage Brands.