The Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers chain based in Wichita hit 40 stores this week with the opening of a franchise restaurant in Round Rock, Texas, just north of Austin.
The new Texas store, the 14th in that state, is one of 11 scheduled to open the rest of this year as Freddy's plans to cross the 50-store plateau during the company's eighth year.
"We have a magnificent group of franchisees who continue to be the catalyst for the growth of our brand," said Bill Simon, president of the company and son of company namesake Freddy Simon.
"The energy level of all involved is so rewarding to be a part of, especially given the headwinds of economic pressures currently facing the restaurant industry and the U.S. economy in general."
The chain has carved out a niche in the fast-food industry by building on the classic burger concept, said Don Sayler, president of the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association.
"It's a burger, but they've changed the burger and added the custard with it, reworked an old standby," Sayler said. "That's part of their draw: Everybody likes a burger."
The Texas store is just one of several Freddy's moves under way.
* Three more company-owned stores will open this year, including one in December near Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita.
An Overland Park restaurant will open Friday, and one is scheduled to open in Kansas City, Mo., later this fall.
* An eight-store development agreement for portions of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas has been signed with a group headed by Wichitan Jamie Rheem, a former Kansas State kicker.
That group's first store, in Branson, Mo., is under construction and should open Nov. 1.
* Franchisees will open an additional seven stores in 2010, including a restaurant in Flagstaff, Ariz., later this month.
Mark Scholler, the company's director of franchise development, said real estate prices and sales performance are driving the rapid expansion.
* The company's management has been reshuffled, with the promotion of Ben Hesse to director of training and Joe Fernandez to regional manager.
Hesse has been general manager of the Plazzio Freddy's near 13th and Greenwich since it opened, and Fernandez has operated the first Freddy's on 21st near Tyler since 2007.
Co-founded by Scott Redler and Bill, Randy and Freddy Simon in 2002, Freddy's specializes in cooked-to-order steakburgers, Chicago dogs and other menu items, along with premium frozen custard.