- The Washington Times - Friday, February 9, 2007

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is diving deeper into the entertainment field with plans to buy Johnny Rockets, the 1950s-themed restaurant chain, his investment company announced yesterday.

RedZone Capital Fund II, a new investment group managed by Mr. Snyder and fellow Redskins investor Dwight C. Schar, is purchasing the 200-restaurant chain for an undisclosed amount.

The deal is Mr. Snyder’s latest entertainment acquisition. Last year, he took over Six Flags Theme Parks Inc. and agreed to finance actor Tom Cruise’s production company.

Johnny Rockets, which serves burgers and fries, plays oldies tunes and sometimes features a counter-singing serving staff, has locations in Georgetown, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, Dupont Circle, Union Station, Alexandria and Annapolis.

Mr. Snyder said he plans to rapidly expand the company, as well as open “Johnny Rockets Express,” a chain of smaller versions of the restaurant.

“There’s no reason we shouldn’t see 1,000 Johnny Rockets locations within the next five years,” he said.

Some of those locations could be in FedEx Field, home of the Redskins, or Six Flags theme parks.

Mr. Snyder’s spokesman, Karl Swanson, said cross-promotions with Johnny Rockets are “obvious.”

“It makes sense to install some of the Johnny Rockets Express into the theme parks,” he said, adding FedEx Field would also be a good fit. “It’s an obvious location given the traffic you get.”

One of directors at Six Flags is Mark E. Jennings, who also sits on the board of directors at Johnny Rockets.

The Lake Forest, Calif., chain has been growing at a rate of more than 20 percent a year, according to Red Zone.

“We’ve been growing steadily and are ready to take the next step to true national and international expansion,” said Mike Shumsky, chief executive officer of Johnny Rockets. “RedZone is enabling that next step.”

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