Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. has signed a development agreement with its largest franchisee, United States Beef Corporation, to open 70 restaurants over the next seven years, the Atlanta-based franchisor said Monday.

“As an Arby’s franchisee for nearly 50 years and the largest franchisee, with 331 restaurants, U.S. Beef continues to exemplify the gold standard when representing our brand,” Arby’s chief development officer Greg Vojnovic said in a statement announcing the deal.

U.S. Beef CEO John Davis told Nation’s Restaurant News that the main focus of expansion would be in the Denver area — a territory it took over from another franchisee, along with Wyoming and Idaho, in 2013.

“Restaurant-wise, Denver has been one of the fastest growing markets, and it’s a great Arby’s market,” Davis said.

The franchises plans to double Arby’s presence there by opening 34 units in the next seven years, including four in 2016 — one in Denver and one each in the suburbs of Aurora, Thornton and Lafayette, he said.

He said Tulsa, Okla.-based U.S. Beef would open an additional six restaurants this year total in Kansas and Missouri. Over the next seven years they also will be expanding in Idaho, Oklahoma, Arkansas and southwest Illinois, Davis said.

Most of the new units will be smaller than the traditional Arby’s footprint of 2,800 square feet to 3,000 square feet. The new locations, in line with current designs, would be between 2,200 square feet and 2,400 square feet, “So we can use a smaller lot,” he said.

The franchisee also plans to remodel 10 restaurants with Arby’s newer Inspire design, with muted wood colors and Wi-Fi.

Arby’s, a 3,300-unit quick-service chain owned by private-equity firm Roark Capital Group, said it was on track with its goal to exceed $4 billion in systemwide sales by the end of 2018, and that its same-store sales through the first three quarters of 2015 rose by 8.9 percent compared to a year earlier.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
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