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The Big Get Bigger as JAE Group Acquires 34 Wendy’s


Already one of the largest multi-unit Wendy’s franchisees, JAE Restaurant Group is folding another 34 locations of the hamburger chain into its operations following the acquisition of restaurants throughout Knoxville, Tennessee.

Based in Pompano Beach, Florida, JAE now owns 212 Wendy’s restaurants in Florida, New Mexico, Texas and Tennessee. Wendy’s sold the restaurants as part of its System Optimization Initiative, a shift from company-owned to franchise transactions with the goal of Wendy’s owning just 5 percent of its 6,500 restaurants.

For its part, JAE plans to remodel four Wendy’s in Knoxville this year to include updated features such as fireplaces, a variety of seating options, Wi-Fi, flatscreen TVs and digital menu boards. The company has an overall goal to eventually remodel all Knoxville Wendy’s and open another 10 to 12 locations in the market over the next four years.

“We chose to invest in the Knoxville market because it’s one of the highest growth areas in the country right now, thanks to its friendly tax environment, affordable housing, younger population and large number of university students,” said Jhonny Mercado, co-chairman of JAE Restaurant Group, in a statement. “These favorable demographics are perfect for Wendy’s, and we feel that Knoxville is an under penetrated market for the brand.”

JAE opened its first Wendy’s restaurant in Hialeah, Florida, in 1993 and steadily added locations. The group more than doubled its store count in 2016 when it acquired 97 refranchised restaurants. JAE is owned by Mercado, Eddie Rodriquez and Andres Garcia.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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