By George Tanber
(Reuters) - A troubled Ohio hot dog restaurant chain made famous in the TV series "M*A*S*H" has been sold after months of legal wrangling, allowing descendants of the eponymous Tony Packo's to keep running Cpl. Klinger's favorite frankfurter place.
Ohio-based TP Foods LLC assumed control of Tony Packo's on Saturday when a bank restored previously agreed financing terms that it had rescinded, TP Foods President Bob Bennett said.
Tony Packo Jr. and Tony Packo III have joined TP Foods and will run the restaurants for Bennett.
Bennett met with employees of the five-restaurant chain Monday morning and said he was encouraged about the chain's future.
"I'm really pleased," Bennett said. "The employees are happy. We're going to go ahead and run the restaurants the way we have in the past."
Tony Packo's, in its 80th year, rose to fame on the hit TV show in the 1970s when Toledo native Jamie Farr played Korean War soldier Cpl. Klinger, a character also from Toledo who frequently talked about home and his favorite hot dog.
Packo's has been under duress since August 2010, when the company's co-owner, Robin Horvath, alleged misappropriation of corporate funds in a lawsuit against his cousin, Tony Packo III, Packo's executive vice president. Packo's then defaulted on a Fifth Third Bank loan and Horvath sued to gain control of the company from co-owner Tony Packo Jr., Tony III's father.
On December 19, Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Gene Zmuda approved the sale of Packo's to TP Foods for $5.5 million. The deal fell apart in January when Fifth Third changed the terms of a loan, but was resurrected after Fifth Third agreed to return to the original terms, Bennett said.
Ohio's Sixth District Court of Appeals could still rule in Horvath's favor, but Bennett said he's not concerned.
Tom Matuzsak, Horvath's attorney, could not be reached for comment.
(Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Daniel Trotta)