Business

Up to 10 new Checkers restaurants planned for Grand Strand

Checkers opened in Surfside Beach off U.S. 17 Business and Frontage Road south of Ocean Lakes Family Campground in February 2016.
Checkers opened in Surfside Beach off U.S. 17 Business and Frontage Road south of Ocean Lakes Family Campground in February 2016. jblackmon@thesunnews.com

Checkers is planning to build as many as 10 new drive-in locations along the Grand Strand during the next few years, an announcement that comes just a few weeks after the eatery opened its first area location in Surfside Beach.

John Palumbo, director of franchise development with Checkers & Rally’s East Coast division, said he and his team noticed the growing potential in South Carolina.

The New York native said he found a “whole new world of opportunities” in the Palmetto State, where Checkers has already had a lasting presence in cities like Florence. Developers looked to the coast.

“We started exploring that opportunity with our existing franchisee and we were off and running with some opportunities,” he said. “We’ve been very excited.”

The new restaurants are envisioned to pop up in strategic locations from Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., to Murrells Inlet and in a couple of spots inland from Myrtle Beach to Florence.

Checkers opened its first area location a few weeks ago in Surfside Beach off U.S. 17 Business near Old Time Pottery.

Checkers and Rally’s has more than 800 restaurants nationally with more than 320 of those owned and operated by the company.

“We’re very excited with the results thus far with our … location in Surfside (Beach),” Palumbo said.

His team is looking at an opportunity for a new restaurant in Little River, and Palumbo will be scouting other potential sites around the Myrtle Beach area over the next couple of weeks.

“I’ll be in Myrtle Beach this weekend for my daughter’s cheer(leading) competition so I may go off and do a couple of site tours if I don’t get in trouble with my wife,” he said with a chuckle.

Palumbo says Checkers plans to open a new location and have two more under construction this year. He is working with new franchisees – who are all vetted through a labor-intensive process that includes in-store training – to determine the exact locations and scope of the restaurants’ development.

Checkers and Rally’s – now into its third decade – has more than 800 restaurants nationally with more than 320 of those owned and operated by the company, he said.

We’re very excited with the results thus far with our … location in Surfside (Beach).

John Palumbo, director of franchise development with Checkers & Rally’s

Palumbo says they are also looking for new franchisees.

Checkers and Rally’s has signed nearly 100 new franchisees in the last three years and 85 percent of franchisees are now planning to grow, according to Palumbo.

The first Rally’s restaurant opened in 1985 in Louisville, Kent. The first Checkers drive-in opened a year later in Mobile, Ala. The drive-in fast food chain, decked with its iconic black and white checks, is known for its hamburgers, loaded fries, milkshakes and wings.

Emily Weaver: 843-444-1722, @TSNEmily

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