Pet Supplies Plus storefront

New Pet Supplies Plus stores are coming to Tennessee and Texas after franchisee U.S. Retail Holdings signed a new 20-unit development deal.

Aaron Young, Chad Bush and Doug DeLozier already have 49 Pet Supplies Plus stores across Alabama, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and Texas, and their U.S. Retail Holdings group isn’t slowing down. With a new franchise development agreement, the trio will open another 20 locations over the next five years.The majority of the new stores will open across Tennessee and Texas, with store 50 set to open this summer.

DeLozier purchased his first two stores in 2002 and later partnered with Bush and Young on expansion.

“We’ve always been attracted to the high-volume, low-margin and repeat sales being a reliable, local grocery store for the growing number of pet parents,” DeLozier said in a statement. “Pet Supplies Plus has evolved tremendously with additional investment and advancements for technology, marketing and merchandising support. We’re now a national chain that has intentionally kept its local neighborhood feel.”

Franchise Group Inc. acquired Pet Supplies Plus in 2021 from Sentinel Capital Partners, purchasing what at the time was a 562-unit brand in a deal valued at $700 million. Pet Supplies Plus now has more than 600 stores and it’s part of a publicly traded company that also owns The Vitamin Shoppe, American Freight, Buddy’s Home Furnishings, Sylvan Learning and Badcock Furniture. 

Big Chicken Shaquille-Chefs

Shaquille O'Neal with chefs Matthew Silverman, left, and Matthew Piekarski. Their Big Chicken concept will expand in Florida and Texas following two large multi-unit deal signings.

Big Chicken, the Shaquille O’Neal-owned fast-casual concept, signed a 40-unit agreement with Panhandle Restaurant Group for locations in northern Florida and northwest Arkansas. Operators Chris and Amy McMillan are also Sonic Drive-In franchisees with 22 units and, along with other business partners, have several Slim Chickens restaurants in Florida and Alabama.

Another new agreement, this time in Texas, will bring 50 Big Chicken locations to Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin. The owner/operator team includes Fazil and Frank Malik, owners of gas station and convenience store company Northwest Petrolieum, and Noordin Jhaver, CEO of Dew Real Estate Holdings and a Sonic franchisee with more than 50 units.

Heyday, a facial and skincare service franchise, signed a 10-unit agreement with Haylee Tallarida and Deepak Diwan to open locations in the Boston market. Tallarida has a background in retail and owns a fine jewelry store, while Diwan is the founder and managing partner of Bloomfield Hospitality, which owns and operates several foodservice establishments.

Penn Station East Coast Subs inked multi-unit agreements for locations in four states. Steve Brewer and Jerry Ayres, also Zaxby’s franchisees, are growing Penn Station in Tennessee and Indiana. The two acquired three locations in southern Indiana and signed to open seven more, in additional to buying 12 Penn Stations in the Nashville area to go along with a development agreement for 12 more. Matt Studer and Preston House, who are multi-unit Papa John’s operators, signed agreements to open 23 Penn Stations in the Kansas City metro and 11 in Columbus, Ohio. In Indianapolis, longtime Penn Station franchisees Rob Chinksy and Joe Sunderman, who with managing owner Kenton Weyant have 18 units, signed for another three restaurants.

Unity Rd retail store

Unity Rd.'s retail cannabis dispensary has an open-entry design, shown in this rendering.

Unity Rd., a cannabis dispensary franchise, signed a three-unit agreement with franchisee Joe Hernandez, who will open shops in New Mexico, starting in Ruidoso. Hernandez has 25-plus years of combined real estate investment and business management experience, and has owned several businesses in the transportation, insurance and home services industries across multiple states.

Buddy’s Home Furnishings signed an agreement with multi-unit operating group WRE, which will convert six of its Hometown Sales & Leasing rent-to-own locations in Virginia to Buddy’s storefronts. Owned by Robert Smith and Ernie Thompson, WRE has operated in Virginia since 2002. In 2018, after more than 16 years in the retail industry, the company entered the rent-to-own space. It will convert its stores in South Hill, Blackstone, Ashland, Smithfield, Kilmarnock and Farmville over the next six months.

Krystal is expanding with restaurants in Puerto Rico after signing a franchisee agreement with Justin Tirri and his Caribbean Cattle group. The first location is slated to open this summer at The Outlet 66 Mall in Canovanas, which Tirri owns and operates. Tirri is also a Golden Corral franchisee and owns other restaurants.

Donatos will expand in southwest Florida after signing a three-unit agreement with Herwig Enterprises. The group will develop the pizza concept in the Fort Myers area.

Kris Humphries-CrispGreen family

From left, Crisp & Green franchisees Alex Humphries, Debra Humphires, Kris Humphries and William Humphries are bringing Dave's Hot Chicken to Minnesota.

Dave’s Hot Chicken is expanding to Minnesota, where former NBA player Kris Humphries and his family, including William, Debra and Alex Humphries, signed a 10-unit agreement. Also franchisees of Five Guys and Crisp & Green, they’ll develop the fast-casual hot chicken concept throughout the Twin Cities, including Minneapolis.

Dave’s will also expand in the northwest Chicago area after signing a 15-unit agreement with brothers Rocco and Anthony Armocida. The Armocidas are principals in SDM Management, a franchise management and development company. Other concepts they’ve operated include Sbarro and Freshii.

Qdoba signed a 10-unit agreement that will bring the Mexican concept to the Cleveland area, including Geauga, Lake, Portage, Stark, Summit and Cuyahoga counties. OM Ohio Queso, led by Amit Patel, Kalpesh Patel and Amanda Ristic, is the franchisee, and its executives have operations experience in multiple franchises, including Dunkin’, Wingstop and Cousins Subs. Qdoba is also expanding in Florida after signing the largest development agreement in company history.

Phenix Salon Suites signed a multi-unit agreement with Theresa Townsend to develop five locations in and around Chicago. Townsend has a background in pharmaceutical sales and management. She plans to open her first Phenix location in 2023. In addition to its domestic growth, Phenix is expanding internationally, including in Sweden.

Chick N Max, created by former Freddy’s exec Max Sheets, signed an area development agreement with Leghorn Development to grow the concept in Kansas. Rusty Rathbun leads Leghorn; he spent nearly 35 years as an area developer for Subway and was responsible for bringing the brand to Kansas in 1987. He eventually had more than 160 Subways under his purview across several states.

WaBa Grill sauce pour

California-based rice bowl chain WaBa Grill has nearly 200 locations

WaBa Grill signed a 13-store development agreement with franchisees Harsimran “Sim” Nagra and Jerry Bajwa of the Bajwa Group of Companies. Existing WaBa franchisees, their group owns 19 stores throughout Southern California, and with this new deal the Bajwa Group has exclusive territory rights to open locations north of Bakersfield through Fresno, in central California.

We Sell Restaurants, a restaurant brokerage franchise, entered the Kansas City market for the first time after signing a two-unit agreement Tony Miceli. Most recently Miceli was vice president of KBP Brands, a large Taco Bell, KFC and Arby’s franchisee. He also spent more than a decade each with Panera Bread and Applebee’s. His We Sell Restaurants territories encompass the Kansas City metro in Missouri and Kansas.

Slim Chickens will continue to grow in Texas after signing a 23-unit agreement with existing franchisees Joel Garza and Andrew Miller, CEO and COO, respectively, of Garza Management. Already operating Slim Chickens restaurants in the Houston area as part of a multi-unit deal signed in 2020, the two will also open units in Dallas and the Rio Grande Valley as part of the new deal. Garza and Miller are also Sonic franchisees with 45 locations.

Super Chix, a Utah-based concept, signed a multi-unit agreement with franchise group Best Tasting Chix, which will open 25 locations in South Carolina. Super Chix has 12 restaurants open in eight states.

Troy Caron-American Freight

Troy Caron is a new American Freight franchisee in Missouri.

American Freight, which sells furniture, mattresses and appliances from its warehouse-style stores, signed a three-unit deal with board-certified orthopedic surgeon Troy Caron. He will open stores in Missouri.

PetWellClinic signed a 12-unit agreement in Salt Lake City, expanding on the relationship with franchisees Ed and Betsy Erb, who last year signed for eight locations of the walk-in vet clinic franchise in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Bubbakoo’s Burritos is expanding its footprint in New York, signing a 15-unit agreement with HNR Global Enterprises to open restaurants in Long Island. HNR is led by partner Hiren Patel, who also has experience with Dunkin’ and KFC.

Naf Naf Middle Eastern Grill inked a seven-unit agreement with franchisee Danny Madanes and operating partner Dustin Gasper of Mama’s Restaurant Group to expand the concept in Wisconsin. The agreement covers Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay, and Mama’s Restaurant Group also acquired Naf Naf’s company unit in Brookfield.

Fazoli’s signed an area development agreement with Kind Hospitality President and CEO Nava Singam to bring the fast-casual Italian brand back to the Phoenix market with nine area locations to open in three years. Singam has a portfolio of 29 locations across six different brands: Panera Bread, Macayo’s Mexican Food, Virtu Honest Craft, O.H.S.O. Brewery, Barrio Brewing Co. and Copper Plate.

International Development News

Pokeworks signed a master franchise agreement for 50 units in territories across Canada. The franchise group, Eat Up Canada, is led by co-founders George Heos and Alex Gerzon. Heos has more than 25 years of restaurant industry experience in Canada and was an area representative for Firehouse Subs in Ontario in addition to growing Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in the country. Gerzon was also a Firehouse area rep and spent nine years as director of franchising at Boston Pizza. They plan to begin development within the greater Toronto area, slating the first opening before the end of 2022.

Johnny Rockets will expand into Israel after signing a 10-unit agreement with franchisee F and J Master License. Led by Farid Abu Zariyeh, the group plans to open the restaurants over the next 10 years. Parent company FAT Brands purchased Johnny Rockets in 2020.

Russo’s New York Pizzeria & Italian Kitchen signed a five-unit franchise deal in Qatar, with the first location set to open in November in the Doha Oasis mixed-use development. The development area also includes an indoor theme park, upscale hotel, a retail shopping complex and Vox Cinema.