- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 31, 2003

Fatburger Corp. has slimmed down plans for expansion in the D.C. area.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based burger chain will hire a local franchisee to develop as many as 10 restaurants in the area over several years, says Keith Warlick, president and chief executive officer of Fatburger.

“We’re not trying to blitz the market,” said Mr. Warlick, adding that one store will open per year until the infrastructure is in place to open more at one time.

The company is looking at a “couple of decent” applicants and expects to have a franchisee within three months. The first Fatburger location in the area is expected to open in late spring or early summer next year, he said.

Fatburger’s expansion plans and its extended timeline are far different from what they were several months ago when Earvin “Magic” Johnson owned a majority stake in the company.

In an interview with The Washington Times in November, Kenneth T. Lombard, president of the NBA legend’s Johnson Development Corp., had said the District could handle 40 to 60 Fatburger restaurants, and that the first location would open doors within the year.

Mr. Johnson, who had owned a majority stake in Fatburgers since August 2001, was bought out last month for $6 million by an investment group led by Mr. Warlick. Officials could not agree on how to operate the company.

“We had significant management issues on how the company was going to be run,” Mr. Lombard said. “We were not on the same page.”

Fatburger has 50 restaurants in California, Nevada, Arizona and Washington state. Mr. Warlick has plans to bring about 10 restaurants each to the top markets in the country. The company has agreements for 169 franchises.

Mr. Warlick said the District is an ideal market for the burger joint.

“Washington, D.C., is one of the most viable markets in the country with its demographics and income,” he said. “It’s very powerful.”

While its plan to bring dozens of Fatburgers to the District fell through, Johnson Development is still on the hunt for local sites for other partnered ventures.

The company, which targets urban markets that tend to be underserved by big-name companies, is “very close” to a deal for a 24 Hour Fitness location in the area, Mr. Lombard said. The company is still looking for opportunities to bring a T.G.I. Friday’s into the market, he said.

Mr. Johnson already has a local presence with his Starbucks partnership. Four Starbucks locations in Largo and Hyattsville and two in the District are joint ventures with Johnson Development.

Magic Johnson Theaters, a partnership with Loews Cineplex Entertainment, is continuing as planned at the Boulevard at Capital Centre in Landover. The 52,000-square-foot complex, which will have 12 screens, is to open in the fall. It will be one of the anchors at the $85 million, 490,000-square-foot main street retail center to open Nov. 15.

New openings

• Olly Shoes, a children’s shoe store, is gearing up to open its second store in the D.C. area at White Flint on Sept. 15. The retailer uses a computerized fitting station that scans a child’s foot to find the best-fitting shoes possible. Olly Shoes, which started in Toronto with two stores, made its U.S. debut at Fair Oaks last month.

• The first Talbots Mens store in the D.C. area will open Sept. 8 at Tysons Corner Center. The 3,900-square-foot store will be the company’s fifth retail location at the shopping center. That gives Talbots a total of 19,000 square feet at the mall.

Got news? Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Retail & Hospitality runs every other Monday.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More

Click to Hide