HOUSTON-Houston’s Crescent City Beignets is rolling out an aggressive expansion plan that will bring at least 31 restaurants on line through a new franchise pact.

The agreement with JWK Inc. of Chicago calls for the locations to be opened in the next five years. Twelve of the new CCB restaurants will be located in Nevada and 19 within a 210-mile radius in and around Chicago, including parts of Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. By maintaining the agreed-upon schedules of openings, JWK will then keep exclusivity in the two areas.

Houston’s tradition-heavy Crescent City Beignets coffee houses has brought authentic New Orleans-style beignets, café au lait and Creole cooking to three stores here plus one in Austin.

Houston’s Seaboard Franchise Services Co. helped negotiate the JWK franchise agreement. In 1999, Seaboard negotiated a similar agreement with Sugar Land-based SEJCON headed by businessman Steve Jackson, to develop a minimum of four Crescent City Beignets in the Houston area over the next four years. The first is now open at 2623 Town Center Blvd. in Sugar Land and the second was scheduled to open before the end of the year in the Woodlands’ Sterling Ridge Shopping Center at 6700 Woodlands Parkway.

The new franchise keeps the ball rolling for CCB, which can only be termed a roaring success. In the summer of 1997, owners and siblings Marcy, Wayne and Tucker Bunch opened the original restaurant at 3260 Westheimer at River Oaks in Houston. The three also own a Crescent City Beignets at 1211 Sixth St. at Lamar in Austin.

The restaurant’s idea emanated from the famed Café du Monde on the edge of the French Quarter in New Orleans, where natives and tourists alike converge in the morning for chicory-laced coffee and beignets. But CCB has expanded the menu to include a rotating selection of Creole lunch specials and freshly baked breakfast muffins. Austin and Sugar Land locations also serve dinner, and so will the Woodlands location. But what most customers come for are the beignets, made to order and dusted with powdered-cane sugar just before they are served. The Louisiana Bunch family had counted on the appeal of the business concept, and the art of providing atmosphere, traditional coffee and fresh beignets, in an age-old tradition.

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