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DETROIT-Damon’s Grill, with its headquarters in Columbus, OH, has finalized development deals with two multi-unit operators who plan to open 13 new restaurants. Veteran restaurant developers and operators Mark Janes and Lee Chappell of the DMA Food Group will build 10 restaurants throughout Michigan, with the majority located in the eastern part of the state, including Detroit.

DMA Food Group is based in Michigan.

Pennsylvania real estate and restaurant developer GEM, LLC signed an agreement to open one restaurant in eastern Pennsylvania and two in western New Jersey. Earlier this year, Damon’s announced it had signed two development agreements for a total of seven new northern and central New Jersey restaurants.

“Having worked in the industry for more than 20 years, I was aware of the Damon’s brand, but we didn’t realize how much it had changed until we began looking to invest in a casual chain,” says Mark Janes, president, DMA Food Group. “We like the financial performance of the new prototype, and the concept is distinctly different from the other casual dining chains.”

Janes and Lee Chappell, DMA Food Group vice president, have extensive restaurant and chain experience. Janes is a former 10-unit Little Caesar’s franchisee and served on the chain’s national franchise advisory panel. Chappell’s experience includes working for Metromedia’s S&A Restaurant Corp., Don Pablo’s Mexican Kitchen and Paragon Steakhouse Partners, where he served as regional vice president of operations.

DMA Food Group plans to open its first Damon’s Grill next spring. Damon’s currently has 15 franchised locations in Michigan.

GEM operates a number of restaurants, including Sbarro and Au Bon Pain. It plans to open its first Damon’s in mid-2003.

“These two groups are the types of franchisees who will help us grow into a 300-unit chain,” says Shannon Foust, Damon’s president and CEO.

In May, Damon’s launched a major franchise development initiative designed to double the number of restaurants over the next several years. Damon’s is targeting more multi-unit restaurant operators who are looking to expand their portfolios. The new recruitment program follows nearly three years of work to reshape the chain and prepare it for growth.

The 23-year-old company has more than 140 company and franchised locations worldwide.

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