SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) – One of the original owners of the Sharon-based Quaker Steak and Lube said he was surprised and saddened that the company he started ended up in bankruptcy.
The original Quaker Steak and Lube adjacent to downtown Sharon was quiet Tuesday afternoon — the clock above the side door a reminder it is always five o’clock — or close to it — somewhere.
The restaurant is where the franchise all began — where the picture of the car being lowered into the roof was taken, where the “best wings in the U.S.A.” were first sold.
Quaker Steak and Lube would grow to 50 locations in 16 states. But on Monday, the company filed for bankruptcy and announced that Travel Centers of America would be buying it for $25 million.
“I was surprised by the bankruptcy, because I didn’t think they would have to go through that process,” said George Jig Warren, one of the original owners.
Warren and Gary Moe Meszaros founded Quaker Steak in 1974. Meszaros died in August.
Warren resigned as CEO of Quaker Steak eight years ago and was on the inside, until recently.
“I was pretty much up-to-date with what was going on in operations, up until about a year and a half, when I left the Board, which was a couple years ago now,” he said.
Warren says the problem was a large number of under-performing restaurants that had to be closed.
“I knew the company was in peril because of the inability to pay some of the leases for the restaurants that it closed,” he said.
In fact, on the list of largest credit holders filed in the Quaker Steak and Lube bankruptcy, half of them are for back rent — one for as much as $257,000.
An interesting twist, Warren now owns the Keg Bar and Grille on E. State Street, only a mile and a half from his original Lube. He says he is going back to things that work.