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TAMPA, FL-America’s hunger for hamburgers, fast and inexpensive, is driving locally based Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc. to open 20 new stores over the next five years totaling an estimated 100,000 sf in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Nashville, the company says. The expansion is headed by the Checkers Rally’s franchisee, National Restaurant Development Inc.

The publicly traded fast-food chain already owns and operates 20 locations in Nashville. At an estimated 5,000 sf per restaurant site, Checkers figures its franchisee will own and operate a total 54 locations totaling an estimated 270,000 sf by 2009, says Aziz Hashim, CEO of National Restaurant Development Inc.

“We have been extremely pleased with the performance of both our Checkers and Rally’s locations across all of our markets and we see tremendous potential for the brands,” Hashim says in a prepared statement. Checkers’ common stock on the Nasdaq is trading in the $10.40-per-share range. The stock’s 52-week high and low was $12.25 and $8.15.

For fiscal 2004, Checkers/Rally’s has signed development contracts for 67 franchised units totaling an estimated 335,000 sf over the next five years, Hashim says. Checkers’ vice president of franchises, Ron Levondosky, says the success of National Restaurant Development is due to their “passion for the business, a commitment to their stores and a dedication to operating the brand with excellence.”

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