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NEWTOWN, PA-As Dallas based CBC Restaurant Corp. accelerates its Corner Bakery Café franchise program, it has formed a partnership with the locally based Rose Group. Rose Group, the 39th largest restaurant franchise company in the US, owns and operates 54 Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar units in Eastern Pennsylvania, Baltimore and New Jersey.

Plans call for the addition of approximately 25 new Corner Bakery Café units throughout the Philadelphia and New Jersey markets within the next few years. “Fast-casual dining is one of the fastest growing segments in our industry,” says Harry Rose, chairman and CEO, in a statement. “We view this relationship with Corner Bakery Café as an important milestone in the growth of our company, giving us the opportunity to expand our current success into the bakery café concept.”

Like CBC, the Rose Group is in growth mode. In the past year, it added seven new Applebee’s and 700 staff members, taking its total number of employees to nearly 5,000. Corner Bakery Café was founded in 1991, and CBC acquired the brand from Dallas-based Brinker International Inc. in late 2005 for about $70 million.

There are currently 98 units in about six states, and the overwhelming majority are company-owned and operated. In October 2006, it launched a franchise development program. “We were waiting to do it right,” says Mike Hislop, CBC’s chairman and CEO. “After just completing our 19th straight quarter of positive comp sales, we feel we’re in a position to move our franchise program forward at an aggressive pace.”

The criteria for franchise partners called for companies with “relevant multi-unit restaurant experience, $3 million in non-borrowed cash available, a net worth of more than $7.5 million, strong existing infrastructures and real estate expertise in the market to be developed, and recognition as ‘best in class’ and ‘employer of choice’ within their current system.” P.J. Evans, CBC’s VP of franchise development, says the Rose Group “exceeds all of our already high standards for partnerships.”

A call to the Rose Group was not returned by deadline. According to a report published prior to the agreement with CBC, the company anticipated sales of $160 million this year and was looking to grow through acquisition of another Applebee’s franchise or another fast-casual chain.

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