Checker's Next Food Chain for Buffalo

July 13, 2012 Updated Jul 13, 2012 at 7:08 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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July 13, 2012 Updated Jul 13, 2012 at 7:08 AM EDT

Buffalo, NY - Checker's Drive In is targeting the Buffalo area as part an aggressive expansion campaign that will see the chain move into new markets.

Jennifer Durham, Checker's vice president of franchise development, confirmed that the Tampa-based, privately-held company is close to wrapping up a deal with a Buffalo investment group that will bring the franchise to the region. The franchise development pact between Checkers and the undisclosed Buffalo group should be completed soon, Durham predicted.

"Buffalo is a very attractive market to us," Durham said. "We know all of the other players are there but it is also a very down-to-earth community that meshes well with us."

While best-known for its hamburgers and double-sided drive-thrus, Checker's is considered one of the top eateries in the quick serve restaurant industry.

Delaware North Cos.' operates a Checker's at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport food concourse and also at the Corfu stop along the New York State Thruway. Delaware North's deal is strictly for those two local sites and will not impact the current franchise negotiations underway.

Checker's has several locations in the New York City and Long Island area, but none in Upstate New York outside of the outlet along the Thruway and the airport.

"It is virgin territory for us," Durham said.

Durham said pending the outcome of the talks with the potential franchise operator, the first new Checker's outlet in the region could open by next year.

The franchise operator is considering opening as many as 20 new Checker's sites in the immediate Buffalo Niagara region. No sites have been selected.

Durham said it is likely Checker's will have both urban and suburban locations in Buffalo.

"We like to be everywhere," she said.

A typical Checker's is approximately 800-square-feet. The company has several design options including its signature double drive-thru, single drive-thru models and end caps that fit in well in shopping centers and malls.

Besides its hamburgers, Checker's is noted for its fries, shakes, spicy-chicken sandwiches, chicken wings and hot dogs. It recently added a line of ice cream products.

In addition to Buffalo, Checker's is eyeing expanding or adding locations in such cities as Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago and Baltimore/Washington.

Of Checker's 800 locations, just 300 are company-owned.

The chain was founded 26 years ago.

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