Controversial Burger Chain Is All But Non-Existent Now

After an epic fall from grace, Burgerim has left many financial victims in its wake. While the once-promising burger chain still exists in name

Most of which are struggling to stay afloat. An immigrant from Afghanistan, he signed on to become a Burgerim franchisee in pursuit of the American dream.

Still, he considers himself "one of the lucky ones"—he only lost an initial $50,000 franchise fee to the company's treacherous and now-missing CEO Oren Loni, who fled the country to parts

Some unluckier operators are facing much bigger debt, after taking out Small Business Administration (SBA) loans worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to keep their restaurants going.

Burgerim was once considered to be the brand to watch, thanks to its seemingly meteoric rise and rapid expansion. But despite selling more than 1,500 franchises

And collecting more than $57 million in initial franchise fees from 2015 to 2019, only 130 locations managed to open through 2018, according to the state of California.

Jamal was one of those that succeeded in opening a Burgerim restaurant. His location was up and running in 2018 and initially attracted strong interest

from customers. But he and other remaining franchisees are now "holding on by their fingernails," due to a confluence of factors plaguing the restaurant industry

"We're barely surviving," he says, adding that if it wasn't for his development of a good, local customer base, his location would not be around.

Franchisee advocate Keith Miller says it's hard to know how many franchisees are still out there since "there's no central company left." According to industry insiders

As the chain began to implode, some operators decided to take their restaurants out of the chain's system and try their luck as independents or as parts of other burger franchises.

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