Blaze Pizza will open locations in Alaska after signing a four-unit development agreement with Greg and Catharine Persinger. The Persingers are multi-brand operators with Firehouse Subs and Cold Stone Creamery locations. Their first Blaze Pizza is slated to open in Fairbanks. In Southern California, brother-and-sister duo Aman and David Chandi signed a two-unit agreement for restaurants in Indio and Colton. The Chandi family also operates Del Taco and Subway restaurants and owns real estate, with the Blaze stores expected to open in shopping plazas owned by the family.
Taco John’s inked the largest franchise agreement in the brand’s history, a 50-unit agreement with Meritage Hospitality Group for new restaurants to be built over the next five years, along with the option to develop another 150 locations. Meritage, ranked No. 13 on the Franchise Times Restaurant 200, is the largest Wendy’s franchisee with more than 300 restaurants. Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Meritage also operates its own concepts such as Stan’s Taco’s and Twisted Rooster. The company plans to open its first Taco John’s in western Michigan in 2022.
Eggs Up Grill is expanding in Tennessee with Ken Bates, a former Little Caesars franchisee. Bates, who grew his Little Caesars store count to 24 restaurants across four states, is opening the first of five Eggs Up locations this year in Johnson City.
Pieology signed a five-unit franchise agreement with Rob and Laurie Wylie and Michael Gordon of Crash-Coyote to open locations in Idaho. Laurie Wylie, president of Crash-Coyote, worked at a Pieology in Chino Hills, California, and decided to become a franchisee after moving to Idaho.
Hoots Wings will open locations in Southern California after signing an 18-unit area development agreement with Reza Medali. The QSR operator is adding Hoots to a portfolio that includes 15 Blaze Pizza stores and two Subways. Hoots Wings began franchising in late 2020 and earlier this year signed a 60-unit agreement.
Qdoba Mexican Eats inked three multi-unit agreements for a total of nine locations in Indiana, Nebraska and Maryland. Tony Ruble is the franchisee in Indiana, where he’ll open three restaurants in the Fort Wayne area and grow his portfolio that also includes Smoothie King. In Nebraska, Troy Benes, owner of Omaha-based Elite Nebraska Real Estate, will develop three units. Qdoba’s agreement in Maryland is also for three restaurants.
Batteries Plus signed a 10-unit development agreement with existing multi-unit franchisee Danny Moos for locations throughout Nevada and Utah. Moos operates six stores in the Las Vegas market, plus one in Texas. He plans to open new Batteries Plus units in Las Vegas, Henderson and Mesquite, Nevada, as well as Utah stores in Cottonwood Heights, Bountiful, Ogden, Spanish Form, Farmington, Tooele and Logan.
Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, a dumpling automat concept, inked a six-unit agreement with New York City-based franchisees Michael Sheinman and Nick Sampogna. The two will open locations throughout Brooklyn and are the third franchise group to sign a multi-unit deal since the brand began franchising in 2020.
Bonchon, a Korean fried chicken concept, signed two multi-unit agreements for a total of eight locations. In Michigan, Danny Han, Eunji Jeong and Myung Song, who come from sushi restaurant backgrounds, will open five stores in the markets of Troy, Ann Arbor, Royal Oak, Farmington Hills and Lansing. In Cincinnati, franchisees Max Lui and Hong Zhong will open three Bonchon locations. Zhong also owns three seafood restaurants, and with Lui the duo has 25-plus years of restaurant experience.
3 Degrees, an infrared sauna studio franchise, signed an area representative agreement with father-and-son duo Michael and Matt Weiss to develop 50 locations in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. They’re also Massage Envy franchisees with a handful of locations in the Chicago area.
Dave’s Hot Chicken will expand in northern New Jersey after signing a franchise agreement with Amit Patel for 14 locations. Patel is a former multi-unit franchisee of Buffalo Wild Wings and Blaze Pizza. Dave’s is also expanding in Boston with franchisee Jamal Bourote.
Roll-Em-Up Taquitos inked a development agreement with holding company The Aurora Group for nine locations throughout Riverside County in California. The group, which is also a franchisee of Los Angeles-based concept Silverlake Ramen, plans to open Roll-Em-Up restaurants in Corona, Eastvale, Riverside, Temecula, Menifee, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, Murrieta, Moreno Valley, Perris and El Cerrito.
New York City-based Mighty Quinn’s BBQ will grow outside the northeast after signing a multi-unit agreement with TBBQ Group to open up to 10 locations in Florida’s Tampa market.
Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream signed two multi-unit agreements, for Miami and Dallas. Franchisee Rafael Mesa will open two locations in Miami’s Doral and Kendall neighborhoods. Franchisee Harold Gernsbacher signed a two-unit development agreement in Dallas and has his first lease signed. When the ice cream shop opens later this year it will mark the brand’s first store outside of Florida.
Cheba Hut will open its first locations in North Carolina after signing a three-unit agreement with Michael Hopkins, Michael Doney and Tim Webster to develop locations in Charlotte. The trio expects to open the first unit of the marijuana-themed sub shop this fall.
Bluefrog Plumbing + Drain signed a six-unit agreement with Colorado franchisee Thomas Lilly, who will open four locations of the plumbing and repair installation concept in Denver and two in Boulder.
PetWellClinic is expanding with locations in New Hampshire, where the brand signed a three-unit agreement with Shadraq Enterprises. The group’s first clinic is expected to open in October in Manchester.
Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream, with locations concentrated in the Midwest, will open restaurants in Florida after signing an area development agreement with franchisee Christina Tennant for the state’s southwest region.
Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centersrecently signed a flurry of multi-unit and master franchise agreements. Master franchisees Lauren and Sean Johnson, former operators of a coffee and smoothie concept, will develop Fyzical in the Austin, Texas market. Lauren is also on the Fyzical franchise sales team. Fellow master franchisees and corporate execs Scott Thayer and Robert Hub signed on to expand Fyzical in Charlotte, North Carolina. Also in Charlotte, two couples, Aaron and Kristin Beck and Dan and Sara Finnerty, signed an agreement for three Fyzical locations.
In Colorado, Fyzical signed three-unit agreements with Steve and Kerre Henning for locations in Denver, and with Aaron and Lindsey Carter for Colorado Springs. In Georgia, Chetan and Sandhya Polavaram have an agreement to open three locations in Dunwoody, while franchisee Scott Nix, former senior VP at SunTrust Bank,signed on for locations in Chamblee and Decatur. Rounding out the multi-unit signings is Matthew Lipsky, a Naval officer, with three locations in Winter Haven, Florida; attorney Chris Orlando and his three units in Allentown, Pennsylvania; and John and Vian Wheatley with two Fyzical locations, in Beavercreek and Centerville, Ohio.
ManageMowed, a landscaping franchise, signed a two-unit agreement with Kevin Amen for the Texas counties of Travis and Williamson, which are both part of the Austin metro.
International Development News
On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina signed a 60-store master franchise agreement for South Korea with JRW Inc. JRW operates 12 On The Border restaurants in the country, with an agreement to grow its corporate count to 28 as it signs sub-franchisees to develop those 60 additional locations. In January, JRW also became the exclusive licensee of On The Border retail products in the Southeast Asian markets of South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Papa John's expanded its partnership with its largest franchisee, Drake Food Service International, to open more than 220 restaurants by 2025, including more than 170 across Latin America, Spain and Portugal. DFSI already operates more than 280 locations in these markets. As part of the agreement, DFSI will also open 50 new restaurants in the United Kingdom over the next four years. It recently purchased 60-plus Papa John’s restaurants in London, making it the brand’s largest franchisee in the country. DFSI is led by CEO Ignacio Astete and holds master franchise rights for Papa John’s in Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, Spain, Portugal and Guatemala. The company also has three locations of its own concept, Just Burger, in Santiago, Chile.
Pizza Inn will expand its international presence, signing an agreement with Walid Haider, chairman of Azalea Investment in Dubai, for five restaurants in Qatar. The first Pizza Inn is slated to open in Doha in March 2022, and Haider has the option to open additional stores. Pizza Inn is part of Rave Restaurant Group, also the franchisor of Pie Five Pizza Co. and Pizza Inn Express.
Dine Brands will expand via non-traditional restaurants in Ontario, Canada, signing an agreement with Kailash Kasal, president of Toronto-based investment company K2 Group, for a minimum of five IHOP locations. The first is set to open in a truck stop location in Belleville. K2 Group invests in hospitality, petroleum and real estate assets throughout Canada.