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Business Observer Thursday, Sep. 2, 2021 11 months ago

Area fast-foods chain attacks markets out west with vigor

Checkers looks for more growth in California, Arizona.

A Tampa fast-food chain aims to take a big bite of the burger market out west, where In-N-Out Burger, with its quirky brand and cult-like status, rules.

In its growth quest, the company, Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc., parent of Checkers & Rally’s, seeks to play off its strengths — mainly its drive-thrus, which have been an industry leader in the pandemic. Checkers recently announced a 15-store development agreement in Orange County, California and, according to a statement, is now looking for franchisee operators for the San Diego market. Arizona and Texas are in the mix, too.

The California push comes six months after the chain’s ownership, New York-based private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners, announced a $20 million expansion investment. It also comes on the heels of Checkers posting a solid 2020 amid the pandemic, when it opened 36 new restaurants and amended its debt. Oak Hill acquired Checkers for $525 million in March 2017.  

On the drive-thru, Checkers officials, in the statement boast that “while other brands are just beginning to test dedicated drive-thru and delivery-only concepts, Checkers & Rally's has 35 years of experience successfully operating double drive-thru restaurants with walk-up windows and patio seating.” In addition, the brand now “offers an e-commerce only lane to meet the needs of delivery drivers and guests who order ahead.”

Checkers franchise officials attended the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference held Aug. 31-Sept. 3 in Las Vegas to recruit franchisees. "We look forward to strengthening our presence in California as we continue to see growing demand across the country for our drive-thru and delivery-focused restaurants that serve up craveable menu items from a small real estate footprint, and we welcome our newest franchise partner in Orange County to the Checkers & Rally's family," Checkers & Rally's Vice President of Development Kristen McDonald says in a statement.

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