There are signs that Lick's — an iconic Toronto burger chain started three decades ago — may be struggling.

As CBC News first reported last week, a Lick's franchise at 1585 The Queensway operated by a husband-and-wife team has been shut down, with the operators locked out of their location.

A Lick's at 2969 Argentia Rd., in Mississauga, Ont., was shut down by its landlord recently. A landlord also closed a Lick’s location at 9781 Jane St. in Vaughan, Ont.

All three of these locations had bailiffs' notices saying Lick's head office owes rent to different landlords totalling almost $220,000.

Contractors recently halted construction on a new Lick’s at 780 Kingston Rd., in Pickering, Ont., telling CBC News they've not been paid.

The following Lick’s locations have also closed recently:

  • 720 Spadina Ave., Toronto.
  • 1960 Queen St. E. (the Beach) Toronto.
  • 1111 Dundas St. E., Whitby, Ont.
  • 1441 Upper James St., Hamilton.
  • 2424 Lakeshore Rd. W., Oakville, Ont.

Lawyer Ben Hanuka has handled cases associated with Lick's in the past, though he's not currently working on any Lick's related case. He says this level of turnover is unusual for franchises.

"When it's half of the system, one would wonder if there's a problem with the system," he told CBC News.

Provincial and federal government liens show Lick's owes about $500,000 in sales tax.

Company president Denise Meehan launched the chain more than three decades ago. During a brief phone call with CBC News last week, she wouldn't comment on the Queensway closure.

And while Meehan hasn't returned other CBC calls for comment, franchise owners say they've been having trouble getting information from the company's head office. They also said they're feeling powerless as they wait to see what happens next.

With files from Stephanie Matteis, CBC News