JAE Restaurant Group, one of the largest multi-unit franchisees of Wendy’s, announced the acquisition of 34 Wendy’s restaurants throughout Knoxville, Tennessee, making JAE Restaurant Group a major employer in Knoxville with a total of 1,150 employees.
To date, JAE owns Wendy’s restaurants in North, South and Central Florida, Albuquerque and El Paso, totaling 212 units, with two locations currently under construction. JAE Restaurant Group plans to remodel four Wendy’s in Knoxville this year to include updated features such as fireplaces, a variety of inviting seating options, Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and digital menu boards. The company has an overall goal to eventually remodel all Knoxville Wendy’s and open another 10 to 12 locations in the market over the next four years.
“We strive to remain leaders in the nation’s evolving quick service restaurant industry by delivering an exceptional experience of quality, service and cleanliness to our customers through high quality food, friendly staff, high operational standards, and being engaged in our communities,” says Eddie Rodriguez, chairman of JAE Restaurant Group. “JAE looks forward to expanding Wendy’s presence and positively impacting communities throughout Knoxville and across the country.”
The Knoxville market locations were sold to JAE as part of Wendy’s System Optimization Initiative to sell hundreds of restaurants to franchisees. The shifting from company-owned to franchise transactions and franchise to franchise is part of Wendy’s brand transformation strategy, along with its Image Activation program to remodel existing stores.
“We chose to invest in the Knoxville market because it’s one of the highest growth areas in the country right now, thanks to its friendly tax environment, affordable housing, younger population and large number of university students,” says Jhonny Mercado, co-chairman of JAE Restaurant Group. “These favorable demographics are perfect for Wendy’s, and we feel that Knoxville is an under penetrated market for the brand.”
JAE Restaurant Group and Wendy’s have a longstanding history, dating back to when JAE opened its first Wendy’s restaurant in Hialeah, Florida in 1993. Since then, JAE-owned restaurants have boasted above average unit volume (AUV) within Wendy’s franchise system, thanks to their five-star management team who pride themselves on using quality service, continual improvement, community involvement and innovation to measure success. The JAE team has been recognized by the brand for their achievements including the Wendy’s Award for Best Operator in 2002, the Dave Thomas Award for Best Overall Franchisee in 2003 and 2012, and chairman Eddie Rodriguez was just inducted into the Wendy’s Hall of Fame.
As a company, JAE Restaurant Group works to contribute to the communities in which its restaurants serve through volunteering and partnerships with local organizations such as the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, Heart Gallery of New Mexico and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
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