Checkers Drive-in Restaurants Inc. is planning a large expansion in the Twin Cities, increasing from a single location in Brooklyn Center to a few dozen.
Minnesotans are relatively unfamiliar with the burger joint. To change that, the Tampa, Fla.-based company needs to find franchisees for the region.
Franchise owners must have a minimum net worth of $750,000 with at least $250,000 in liquid assets, according to the company's website. The franchise fee is $30,000 per location for a 20-year term. The average initial investment is about $415,000 and 4 percent annual royalties.
"We tend to be a bit bolder than the flavors typically offered … like something you would make at home," said Jennifer Durham, vice president of franchise development for Checkers & Rally's Restaurants Inc. "We are looking for hardworking, middle class consumers who eat fast food."
The typical Checkers doesn't have a dining room, focusing entirely on the drive-through and walk-up window traffic.
"About 80 percent of all visits in all fast food happens through drive-through lanes," Durham said. "We are open very, very late. And relative to McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's, we are a small company."
Durham said they are looking for people with food experience, who understand the area and who may have a complementary — but noncompeting — fast-food brand. The average franchisee opens at least three locations. Checkers hopes to find three to five operators in the Twin Cities next year.
There are currently more than 800 Checkers or Rally's locations across the U.S., with company plans for between 40 and 50 new locations within the next year. The company started in the South as two separate, competing chains, but they merged in 1999. Current growth is focused in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Cleveland and Columbus in the Midwest, Charlotte and Baton Rouge in the southern U.S. and Sacramento out west.
West St. Paul used to be home to a Checkers, but the store closed in 2010 after just three years of operation.
Checkers executives hope to open up to 25 new locations in the Twin Cities in both 2017 and 2018.