McAlister’s opened 43 franchised restaurants in 2006 when systemwide sales surpassed $255 million. But its sights are set even higher for 2007.

Building on the success of last year, McAlister’s plans to open 50 new restaurants in 2007 and enter three new states–Colorado, Nebraska and New Mexico. Growth in the upcoming year will be driven primarily by targeting experienced multi-unit operators already in the industry who are looking for a new concept to add to their portfolio.

“We have a great group of franchisees who continue to grow and develop high-volume restaurants,” says Patrick Walls, chief development officer and senior vice president for McAlister’s Corporation. “Each year they continue to raise the bar even higher in terms of sales and operations,”

McAlister’s has been profitable in each of its 18 years with a fast-casual concept that produces average restaurant volume of $1.3 million in 19 states. McAlister’s deli-style menu features more than 90 choices of sandwiches, wraps, soups, spuds, salads, and desserts.

All of McAlister’s Deli franchisees operate, or have executed development units to operate, multi-unit restaurants, the two largest being Dallas-based Saxton Pierce Restaurant Corporation, which operates 21 restaurants, and JME, Inc. with 15 restaurants.

“Our concept and brand are established, but in terms of growth we’re still rising,” Walls says.