Checkers Chain To Expand In Michigan

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, the privately-held burger chain that started in the South and boasts of serving bigger portions and bolder flavors, is aiming to expand in Michigan, adding as many as 50 more restaurants and hundreds of jobs within the next few years.

"We fit well in cities that love value," Jennifer Durham, Checkers vice president of franchise development, said Friday, adding that Michigan has the second highest number of the fast-food company's restaurants.

Metro Detroit, she said, is "a good meat-eating, burger-loving community."

The Tampa-based company said this year alone it expects to open as many as 50 restaurants nationally, including up to 10 in Michigan, under both the Checkers and Rally's names. The two brands are a vestige of a merger between Checkers and Rally's in 1999.

Both brands now serve the same food.

Earlier this year, the company was purchased from Wellspring Capital Management by New York equity firm Sentinel Capital Partners.

In addition, an improving economy, and McDonald's efforts to retool its image in recent years may help Checkers.

Until this week, when McDonald's announced its famous spokesclown would get a new look, the Oak Brook, Ill.-based hamburger chain seemed focused on shedding its fast-food image by investing in restaurant makeovers that gave its stores a more upscale feel and tried to offer more healthy food.

That has opened opportunity for fast-food chains like Checkers that appeal to customers who just want a juicy burger, regardless of the number of calories.

Checkers ""which opened in 1986 in Mobile, Ala. "" makes no apology for its big-flavored, heavily-seasoned meat and fries.

Durham said the company is targeting Michigan "" and the Midwest "" and the growth is a continuation of the company's overall expansion trajectory.

Nicole Wilski, a Checkers franchise owner, plans to open six more stores, including two in metro Detroit, this year. Wilski, who opened her first franchise at 27 in 2009 in Clinton Township, now owns seven of them.

In May, she's set to open a store at 361 W. 14 Mile in Madison Heights, and in June, a new store at 4662 Woodward in Midtown.

"It's fun opening them in the city," she said. "There's so much life going on in Detroit."

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Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc.
4300 W. Cypress St., #600
Tampa, FL

Phone: (813)283-7000
Fax: (813)283-7208

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