OAK BROOK, Ill. (AP) _ McDonald's Corp. is acquiring the struggling Boston Market restaurant chain for $173.5 million in cash.

McDonald's Golden Restaurant Operations Inc. subsidiary will obtain 751 Boston Market restaurants and the franchise rights for an additional 108 restaurants from Boston Chicken Inc., officials of both companies said Wednesday.

The sale will not include Boston Chicken's interest in Einstein/Noah Bagel Corp, though does include some liabilities.

The sale will be completed as part of Boston Chicken's Chapter 11 reorganization plan, officials said. The plan will be filed in December.

Denver-based Boston Chicken sought U.S. Bankruptcy Court protection from its creditors in October 1998 as it attempted to reorganize its finances while continuing to operate.

``The brand is well-established, with excellent employees, quality products, loyal customers and future growth potential,'' McDonald's chairman Jack Greenberg said in a statement. ``Selected sites, where appropriate, will help support domestic restaurant growth for McDonald's, and accelerate opportunities for Chipotle Mexican Grill and Donatos Pizza over the next few years.''

Between May 1992 and 1996, Boston Chicken grew from 34 stores in the Northeast to 1,143 nationwide before financial problems forced it to begin closing shops.

Oak Brook-based McDonald's is the world's leading restaurant chain, with more than 25,000 restaurants.