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FLOWOOD, MS-Corner Bakery Cafe has teamed with Mississippi franchisee, Resolute Bakeries LLC, to launch the quick-casual restaurant concept in the state. The first cafe, measuring 5,000 sf, will open in 2009, and four more restaurants will become operational within five years.

The state’s first Corner Bakery will be a freestanding building at Lakeland Drive and Old Fannin Road at the entrance of the Dogwood Festival Shopping Center, which is under construction. The center’s tenant roster includes JCPenney, Bed Bath and Beyond, Circuit City, Old Navy and PetsMart. “This is a good, high-profile center and we’re pleased to be opening in such a location,” says P.J. Evans, Corner Bakery’s vice president of franchise development.

Evans tells GlobeSt.com that Mississippi was targeted as an opportunity for expansion because of the lack of competition. He adds that Flowood was selected for the first restaurant because the Jackson, MS suburb is fast becoming a magnet for retailers. “For some of the retail stores, Flowood is their only Mississippi presence,” Evans says.

Evans says the Flowood store is a different strategy from Corner Bakery Cafe’s usual end-cap locations in strip centers. “Franchisees come to us with different motivations and interest,” he says. “In this case, he’s interested in buying the dirt and developing.”

Evans adds that the Ridgeland, MS franchisee also is developing a larger restaurant. Most Corner Bakery Cafes range from 3,600 sf to 3,800 sf, with all-in development costs of $1.1 million to $1.4 million.

The development teams for Corner Bakery Cafe and Resolute Bakeries are looking for other sites, primarily in Jackson. Evans says Jackson could support two or three restaurants. Also under consideration is Hattiesburg and areas along the coast. Ideal locations contain a heavy concentration of retail and families with high-end household incomes. Evans says a good mix of daytime and business population is essential as well since much of Corner Bakery Cafe’s business takes place between breakfast and lunch.

Evans says the five-restaurant plan isn’t graven in stone. Depending on how well the concept sells, the franchisee could develop more. “The current contract is for five, but we’re conservative in how we sell markets,” he adds. “We want to understand what kind of provider we’re working with and we typically undersell markets. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mississippi eventually holds eight to 10 restaurants.”

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