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Area fast-foods chain attacks markets out west with vigor

Checkers looks for more growth in California, Arizona.

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  • | 7:10 a.m. September 2, 2021
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File. The first fully reimaged Checkers restaurant, its restaurant of the future, will be in Lakeland.
File. The first fully reimaged Checkers restaurant, its restaurant of the future, will be in Lakeland.
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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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