Checkers & Rally's plans two dozen restaurants around Pittsburgh
Regional fans of Checkers & Rally's Restaurants Inc. who have enjoyed the chain's food while traveling east to Philadelphia or west to Ohio will soon find the "value-based" option a bit closer to home.
The Tampa-based chain intends to open two dozen Checkers restaurants in the Pittsburgh area over the next three to seven years, says Bruce Kim, the company's director of franchise development.
The restaurants in this area will open under the Checkers name and serve the same menu as Rally's stores do, Kim says.
By late this year or early in 2019, the first new Checkers is expected to open in Penn Hills, he adds.
"Our analysis shows we have the capacity for at least two dozen (stores) in the Pittsburgh area," Kim says.
"They will not open all at one time. We want careful, sustained growth with the right people and franchisees," he adds.
The company currently has 870 restaurants nationwide. It's adding another 76 this year and plans another 100 in 2019.
"We have lots of room to grow. In Pittsburgh, where we have no presence, we are not fighting for territory. We are getting lots of requests from Pittsburghers who know our food," Kim says.
In addition, the company's "footprint" is small, about 1,000 square feet. With parking and a drive-through, only about one-third of an acre is needed, he says.
New stores typically have only patio seating, with primary patronage drive-through and walk-up.
"Where you will see some (indoor) seating at our stores is if it's a conversion store," Kim says.
"With a brand new building, it's like a giant Lego (construction)," he says.
The pre-built, modular units are delivered to new sites ready to open.
The company's menu includes hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, smoothies, soft drinks and desserts.
"Our number one product is our coated fries," Kim says. That product is sold in grocery stores as well.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MaryPickels.