Ex-owner wants 'M-A-S-H' Ohio hot dog eatery back

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by Associated Press

Associated Press

Posted on August 21, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 21 at 12:02 PM

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A former owner of a hot dog eatery made famous on the TV series "M-A-S-H" is serving up another attempt at regaining control of Tony Packo's.

One of two cousins who have fought for more than a year over the ownership of the Toledo restaurant chain has asked a state appeals court to nullify the $5.5 million sale completed this year.

Robin Horvath wants the sale to representatives of a private restaurant group overturned until the court rules on several appeals he has filed in the case. He also wants the company's assets returned to a court-appointed third party.

The future of Tony Packo's had been in doubt since the spring of 2011 after a bank foreclosed on its loans and a third party was put in charge of daily operations. A judge last December approved the sale to a private group aligned with Tony Packo Jr. and his son.

Tony Packo's became a household name in the 1970s when actor Jamie Farr portrayed a homesick U.S. soldier in the Korean War who longed for Packo's hot dogs.

"If you're ever in Toledo, Ohio, on the Hungarian side of town, Tony Packo's got the greatest Hungarian hot dogs," Farr's character, Cpl. Max Klinger, said on an episode in 1976.

The original Packo's remains a tourist destination and is decorated with "M-A-S-H" memorabilia.

The recent sale includes the recipe for Packo's chili sauce, which is 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.

The deal was made just days after the founder's grandson Tony Packo III and another company employee were accused of stealing about $170,000 from the restaurant chain. They've pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to go on trial in September.

Trouble began when Horvath began accusing others in the company 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.

Horvath, who acquired half the company when his mother, Nancy Packo Horvath, daughter of the founders, died in 2003, has sued Tony Packo's and its new owners, saying that he was wrongfully fired after the sale was completed in February.

In a court filing last week, Horvath said the court could reverse the sale and order that Tony Packo's be sold to a company he had formed.

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