Burger 21, a new better-burger franchise founded by the owners of The Melting PotRestaurants, announced the signing of two new franchise deals for the territories of Albany, New York, and Sarasota, Florida.

The deal will bring the first Burger 21 restaurant to the state of New York and expands the brand’s footprint to a total of seven states.

To date, Burger 21 has five open locations and 12 franchised restaurants in development across the East Coast.

Melting Pot franchisees Mike Stygles and Bruce Anderson will initially develop one unit in Albany, but hope to further build Burger 21’s presence throughout upstate New York.

They are franchisee partners for The Melting Pot of Syracuse, New York, and Stygles also owns Melting Pot franchises in Albany and Poughkeepsie, New York. 

Prior to joining The Melting Pot, Stygles and Anderson were joint venture partners with Outback Steakhouse for several years.

"I feel very fortunate that the valuable support and experience offered by Front Burner Brands has given us the opportunity to further develop our portfolios with the company through a unique concept that truly goes beyond the better burger," Stygles says. "I'm excited to get behind the grill and introduce the Albany community to Burger 21's diverse menu of crafted beef and non-beef burger creations, hand-dipped shakes, and more." 

Also an experienced Melting Pot franchisee Barry Berkowitz and long-time friend Brian Marshall have signed an agreement to develop one unit in Sarasota. Berkowitz and Marshall, both natives of Sarasota, hope to develop additional units over the next several years.

"As a Melting Pot franchisee of 22 years, I feel that Burger 21 is a natural growth extension for me, and I know we'll be successful with the extensive training and support provided by Front Burner Brands," Berkowitz says. "I'm confident that the Sarasota community will embrace Burger 21 and the gourmet ‘beyond the better burger’ experience it offers without the gourmet price."

Since launching an aggressive growth initiative in fall 2011, Burger 21 has signed franchise agreements with eight different entities in seven states to develop a total of 12 franchised units in the Atlanta; Orlando, Florida; Voorhees, New Jersey; Charlotte, North Carolina; Washington D.C.; Albany, New York; and Sarasota, Florida, markets.

The company’s second Orlando location is scheduled to open near the University of Central Florida on February 25. 

“Burger 21’s franchise program continues to build momentum with the signing of our first franchise agreements in upstate New York and Southwest Florida,” says Mark Johnston, Burger 21 president and chief concept officer, and president of Front Burner Brands, management company for Burger 21.

“Our brand’s proven business model in the thriving fast-casual segment, along with our dedicated franchisees and operators, continue to drive the success of our growing concept,” he adds. 

To further fuel expansion in New York, Florida, and throughout the U.S., Burger 21 is actively seeking qualified franchisees and will host a live webinar on February 21 at 2 p.m. EST.

Burger 21 is seeking single and multiunit operators with restaurant experience to join its upscale fast-casual dining concept. 

Franchisee candidates should have a minimum net worth of $500,000 and liquid assets of at least $200,000 per unit.

Burger 21 will be developed through both single-unit agreements and Area Development Agreements. Depending on the real estate site selected, franchisees can expect the total cost of investment for one restaurant to be approximately $597,995–$831,995. 

The initial franchise fee is $40,000; however, reduced franchise fees apply for Area Development Agreements of four or more units. 

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