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Published: Thursday, 5/10/2007

Packo's closes Findlay restaurant

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
The chain began with this restaurant in East Toledo. The chain began with this restaurant in East Toledo.
FRASER / BLADE Enlarge

After just 14 months, Tony Packo's Inc. has pulled the plug on its restaurant in Findlay, its first venture outside metro Toledo.

Company officials could not be reached for comment yesterday, but the eatery known for Hungarian-style hotdogs, wall of autographed buns, and its connections to the former M*A*S*H TV show apparently wasn't popular in Hancock County.

The restaurant closed this month. Its sign was removed and the phone was disconnected. It opened in January, 2006.

It's unclear why the place closed. But it was on Tiffin Avenue on the east side of town, away from I-75, which reduced visibility to travelers.

The company operates five restaurants in the Toledo area, including the original on Consaul Street in east Toledo.

Dave Long, a commercial real estate agent and retail specialist with CB Richard Ellis in Detroit who has negotiated many restaurant deals in northwest Ohio, said the quick demise of the Findlay Packo's is surprising.

"I think they have such a strong brand, and it's a regional brand awareness," he said. "But on the other hand, the restaurant business right now is absolutely in the toilet."

The rising price of gasoline, he said, has hurt restaurants, with some people switching to fast-food chains or fast-casual places such Panera Bread or Chipotle Mexican Grill.

"These gas prices are destroying any revenue at casual dining places like Packo's. People are spending $20 instead of $30 at restaurants because they need the extra $10 for gas," he said.

A Toledo-area restaurant executive who asked not to be named said the Findlay market has become highly competitive and there's a limited market share. A Ryan's Steakhouse there recently closed.

Packo's officials indicated in 2005 they wanted to expand and debated whether their first venture away from metro Toledo should be Dundee, Mich., near Cabela's, or in Hancock County. They chose Findlay, in part because of its sizable number of families, a niche in which Packo's specializes.

"We are a unique product and we offer casual dining, which people like. But we still have to pass the out-of-town litmus test," Packo's chief operation officer Rob Horvath said at the time.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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