I ♥Mac & Cheese, a fast-casual concept specializing in customizable, made-to-order macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese and salads, has announced it has awarded its first Area Development Agreement for the state of Oklahoma. This agreement is the first for the chain, which already has operational venues in South Florida.

The agreement, which includes the development of five I ♥Mac & Cheese’s in the Oklahoma City area, was awarded to Genevieve “Genny” Prieto. The first restaurant opened in Yukon, OK, on April 16.

“We are thrilled Genny has chosen to expand the I ♥Mac & Cheese presence in Oklahoma City. We know these new restaurants will satisfy a growing consumer demand in the local communities,” says Stephen Giordanella, CEO and chairman. “Genny has solid business experience and has proven to be a successful franchisee with her time at Domino’s.”

The first I ♥Mac & Cheese location opened in 2016 in Fort Lauderdale. Additional South Florida corporate-owned locations include Parkland, Pembroke Pines and Coral Springs. Boca Raton, FL, and Jupiter, FL, are slated to open in May 2018.

The company launched its franchising program nationwide in quarter four 2017.

Additional franchises are slated to open infall 2018 in Bayside, Queens, NY, and Long Island, NY, and in Davie, FL.

The family-friendly restaurants take traditional gourmet dishes and turn them into specialty macaroni and cheese creations, such as Cuban pulled pork mac and cheese, buffalo chicken mac and cheese, and Philly cheese steak mac and cheese. “The creativeness of our mac and cheese creations are only limited by our customer’s imaginations as they build their own specialty combinations,” said Giordanella. All macaroni and cheese dishes can be created as grilled cheese sandwiches as well. There is also a kids’ menu, as well as salads and dessert.

Building an I ♥Mac & Cheese franchise is simple compared to most fast-casual restaurant concepts as there is no need for a hood system in most municipalities, no need for grease traps in most municipalities and no need for gas lines since all of the equipment utilized in the restaurant is electric.

I ♥Mac & Cheese requires a low investment—$175,000 to $271,000—and range in size from 1,200 to 2,000 square feet. Shopping malls, sports venues, areas close to colleges and universities, and high-traffic pedestrian areas are ideal locations.

“The I ♥Mac & Cheese has achieved differentiation with customers and in the restaurant industry within a short period of time,” says president/Chief Development Officer Dan Collins. “Who doesn’t love mac and cheese?”

Presently, franchises are available in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

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