Franchise operator Thomas & King Inc. has agreed to sell its 80 Applebee’s restaurants in Kentucky and Arizona to franchisee RMH Franchise Corp. in a deal expected to close before the end of the year.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.


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The agreement will more than double the number of Applebee’s Grill & Bar locations operated by Lincoln, Neb.-based RMH, which currently has 60 of the casual-dining restaurants in 10 states. Once the deal is completed, RMH, with 140 units, is expected to be the second-largest Applebee’s operator, after San Francisco-based Apple American, which has about 442 units.

“RMH is a very professional and highly regarded franchisee of Applebee’s, and will bring energy, expertise and a passion for our restaurants that will continue our 25 years of success in the business. I am especially pleased that RMH will retain many of our current home office employees. I am confident that RMH will continue to be a leader in our industry,” Mike Scanlon, chief executive of Thomas & King, said in a statement.

RMH has indicated that it intends to hire many of the employees working in the Thomas & King corporate office in Lexington, Ky., though some employees will remain with Thomas & King, which also operates Johnny Carino’s Italian restaurants.

Jeff Neumann, chief executive of RMH Franchise Holdings, said, “Thomas & King shares many of RMH’s core values, including commitment to excellence and superior customer service. Customers of the restaurants we are acquiring will continue to enjoy the exceptional dining experience at Applebee’s that they do currently. We are excited to be growing our portfolio of restaurants and look forward to continued success.”

RMH acquired its first group of 45 Applebee’s restaurants in nine states in December 2012, with an equity investment from Acon Investments for the acquisition of Concord Neighborhood Corp. In June, RMH added another 15 Applebee’s locations in the Chicago area, according to the company’s website.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout