In its largest deal since mid-2021, Jack in the Box inked a deal with new franchisee Cedar Tree Restaurant Group to open 37 new stores and acquire 46 existing stores in four southeast markets, including Nashville, Tennessee; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Greenville, South Carolina; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Cedar Tree Restaurant Group is led by restaurant industry veterans Frank Conley and Jeff Yablun, who became familiar with the brand while living in California. Yablun noted he was attracted to Jack in the Box’s loyal fan base, and the unique space the franchise occupies in the quick-service space. 

“When the potential to franchise with them presented itself, we knew it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” Yablun said in a statement. “We’re thrilled for Jack in the Box to be the first addition to the Cedar Tree portfolio and how we’ll be able to work with the brand’s leaders to take Jack to new heights.”

The company’s existing legacy and widespread presence fit the profile the business duo had in mind when looking for investment opportunities, Conley noted.

“We want to partner with brands that have a proven track record of sound operations and a solid existing base while still having ample room for development,” Conley said in a statement. “We look forward to carrying on the Jack legacy as franchisees during this lively period of growth for the brand.”

The deal—which marks the brand’s single largest development deal since mid-2021—follows Jack in the Box’s fourth quarter earnings call, which projected positive net unit growth for the first time since 2019, thanks to a renewed development program the brand introduced last year. The incentive program offered discounted royalty fees for new franchisees who signed for at least three restaurants by March 2023.

“Jeff and Frank are exactly the type of new franchisees that we want to join and grow Jack in the Box with us,” said Darin Harris, CEO of Jack in the Box, in a statement. “Their business acumen, experience with multi-unit franchising and overall knowledge of the restaurant industry will be key to the successful operations of these existing locations as well as new unit growth.”

Headquartered in San Diego, California, Jack in the Box has more than 2,180 restaurants across 21 states and owns Mexican-American chain Del Taco, which spans 600 restaurants across 15 states.

Related: Jack in the Box Reveals Plan to Sell Hundreds of Del Tacos

Burgers, Fast Food, Franchising, Growth, Story, Jack in the Box