What's In Store

Another restaurant chain is looking at Charlotte for future growth

Another fast casual restaurant chain is looking to expand its Charlotte footprint significantly.

Memphis-based Lenny’s Subs already operates two shops in Charlotte, but the market could accommodate at least 20 in the next five to seven years, said Bob Ritter, vice president of franchise and market development.

The chain’s growth strategy includes expanding in states in which it already operates, Ritter said. Lenny’s, which offers made-to-order hot and cold subway sandwiches and salads, likely will open another two restaurants in the area in the next year, and both of those would be from existing franchisees.

“Charlotte is a market that really meets our demographic in the sense that stores there are really doing a lot better,” Ritter said. “We’re looking for new franchisees to help us grow.”

The typical Lenny’s Subs is around 1,800-2,000 square feet. Proximity to offices is “very important,” Ritter said, so an area like uptown or SouthPark would make sense.

Charlotte’s experiencing a boom in growth of restaurant chains recently, from all the make-your-own pizza shops in South End, uptown and Midtown to the new Park Road Shopping Center chains in the old Monkey Joe’s spot.

Ritter said he sees it as an encouraging sign that other restaurants are targeting Charlotte for more growth, rather than a sign that the market is overly saturated with restaurant chains.

“If there weren’t, it would make the question is it a viable market? So the fact there is a substantial presence of other quick service, I think bodes well for us,” Ritter said.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta