Sale puts ‘M*A*S*H’ eatery into new hands following feud
Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 11:03 pm
By: By The Associated Press
The Messenger 02.08.12
By JOHN SEEWER
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A hot dog eatery made famous on the TV series “M*A*S*H” has been sold after a yearlong family feud over ownership.
Representatives of a private restaurant group in Toledo said Monday they have finalized their $5.5 million purchase of the Tony Packo’s chain, whose future had been in doubt since a bank foreclosed on its loans and a court-appointed third party was put in charge.
The new owners said they plan to keep some members of the Packo family on board, including the founder’s grandson, who is facing charges of stealing from the business.
Actor Jamie Farr, a Toledo native, made Tony Packo’s famous in the 1970s when he portrayed a homesick U.S. soldier in the Korean War who longed for the eatery’s hot dogs.
Packo’s was mentioned in six of the 250 episodes of “M*A*S*H” and continues to draw tourists even though the show ended its run three decades ago.
Bob Bennett, the owner of 26 Burger Kings in the Toledo area, won the bidding for the chain last fall. The sale fell through before being revived last month.
The sale includes the recipe for Packo’s chili sauce, sold in groceries throughout the Midwest, and its autographed hot dog buns, which are displayed on the walls. Celebrity signers include Bing Crosby, Alice Cooper and Bill Cosby.
An attorney for the new owners said just over a week ago that Bennett still plans to keep the founder’s grandson involved in a major role within the company, even though he was charged in December.
Tony Packo III and another company official have pleaded not guilty to aggravated theft. Authorities have said the charges stem from an 18-month investigation into the alleged theft of about $170,000 from the restaurant chain.
Bennett has said that he plans on putting Tony Packo III and his father in charge of the day-to-day operations of the five Packo’s outlets around Toledo.
Trouble began a year ago when descendants of the restaurant’s namesake began accusing each other of financial misdeeds and mismanagement. The company’s lender then foreclosed on almost $4 million in loans. A judge put a third party in charge of the operations while the dispute over ownership played out in court.