Newk’s Eatery, a rapidly growing fast-casual restauran, is expanding its geographic footprint from the Southeast into the Lower Midwest with four new restaurants planned for Northwest Arkansas over the next couple of years. Longtime Arkansas business partners Jim Lynch and Jim White will open their first Newk’s Eatery restaurant in Fayetteville in December 2014, with openings in Bentonville, Rodger, and Fort Smith to follow.
Newk’s Eatery, a fast-casual restaurant brand, is expanding its Louisiana presence by four restaurants in the first quarter of 2015. Newk’s has three Louisiana restaurants, including locations in Monroe, Bossier City, and Shreveport, and expects to open two company-owned Baton Rouge restaurants, along with two franchise locations in West Monroe and Ruston early next year. The expansion in the capital city and other Louisiana markets is part of Newk’s plan to grow the franchise brand to 200 restaurants by the end of 2018.
Newk’s Eatery is launching a Newk’s Cares campaign to raise awareness about ovarian cancer, a disease that hits close to home in the Newk’s family. Lori Newcomb, the wife of Newk’s cofounder and CEO Chris Newcomb, was diagnosed with stage IIIC ovarian cancer in early 2013. From mid-August through September, Newk’s is teaming up with Lori and Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) to educate women and their loved ones about early warning signs of the disease, as well as promote research for a cure.
The 10-year-old fast casual Newk’s Eatery brand hired franchise development veteran Chris Cheek to oversee the company’s aggressive growth both through new, seasoned multiunit franchise operators and through expanded area development agreements with existing Newk’s franchisees. As chief development officer, Cheek will help meet the company’s goal of growing the group of nearly 70 Southeastern restaurants to 200 by 2019, and continue building a pipeline for long-term expansion.
Todd Jackson, owner of several Alabama Newk’s Eatery locations, plans to open 10 new restaurants across Alabama and Texas over the next five years.
Jackson plans to expand his Birmingham-area business by two additional restaurants this year while simultaneously growing the brand in Austin and Houston, Texas.
Pork was promoted for years as “the other white meat” to boost its exposure and dispel consumer perception that it’s too fatty. These days, pork is anything but “other” at many limited-service restaurants, though it’s often under the guise of specific ingredients: Menus mention items like sausage at breakfast, pepperoni for pizzas, and ham on sandwiches. And of course there’s bacon, a foodservice staple made from pork bellies.
Pork is increasingly finding a home on quick-serve menus due to consumers’ evolving tastes and the product’s flexibility and cost-effectiveness.
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Newk’s Eatery will celebrate its 10th anniversary by opening a new store in Midtown Little Rock, Arkansas. The Park Avenue location opens Monday, April 14, and will be the 10th company-owned store in the 68-restaurant chain.
“Over the last 10 years, Newk’s has solidified its position in the Southeast,” says Chris Newcomb, president and CEO of the franchise restaurant concept. “Now, as we begin contiguous expansion into other regions, Little Rock plays a vital role as our anchor and gateway into the Lower Midwest.”
Newk’s is carving out a niche for itself as an upscale fast-casual restaurant, rebranding from Newk’s Express to Newk’s Eatery to emphasize its position.
“The word express didn’t resonate with upscale food,” says Newk’s president and CEO Chris Newcomb.
Newk’s Holding Company announced that Sentinel Capital Partners, a New York–based private equity firm, has made a significant capital investment in the Newk’s Eatery fast-casual brand and assumed ownership interest in the company. Newk’s Holding Company, with 67 franchised and company-owned restaurants across 13 states, is scheduled to open 15 locations this year and reach 200 total restaurants by 2019, a goal that will further bolster the company’s position among Technomic’s 50 top fast-casual chain restaurants nationwide.
Newk’s Eatery’s spring menu will prominently feature culinary-inspired seafood dishes suited for the Lenten season. From March through mid-May, the popular Salmon & Arugula Salad introduced last spring will once again be at the center of the company’s limited time menu. It will appear alongside the company’s other year-round seafood fan favorites, Spicy Shrimp Pizza, Lobster Crab Bisque, Newk’s Signature Shrimp Po’boy, and Caesar Salad topped with Salmon. These selections will be available all week long in nearly 70 restaurants through May 11.