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New partnership will add Johnny Rockets locations across Central America

The restaurant chain will open eight new locations in the emerging market

by Gabriel CortésPublished: October 23, 2012 09:25 AM

In a move to increase its ever-growing presence in developing markets, restaurant chain Johnny Rockets will open eight new restaurants in Central America. It has signed a franchise agreement with hospitality entrepreneur Maria Eugenia Handal Canahuati to establish locations in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Handal owns Desarrollos Gastronomicos Internacionales Corporation, a hospitality management firm that, along with other ventures, oversees the operations of the Crowne Plaza hotel and the Holiday Inn Express in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. She is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Management.

“Maria's passion and impressive background make her the ideal person to bring our flavorful fare, friendly service and fun ambiance to more countries in this rich geographic area,” said Steve Devine, president of Johnny Rockets International.

The restaurant chain is known for serving iconic American fare, like hamburgers and milkshakes, in a stylized setting whose décor includes jukeboxes and Coca Cola advertisements from the World War II era.

The original Johnny Rockets restaurant debuted in 1986 on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Now headquartered in Aliso Viejo, the company has expanded its operations to 30 states and 16 countries, including Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East and South Korea and the Philippines in Asia.

Speaking of this new development, Devine focused on the potential for growth that exists in the Central American region. “With more than 41 million people in seven countries, Central America continues to represent a tremendous opportunity for Johnny Rockets,” he said.

This planned expansion is not the chain’s first foray into the Latin American market. The company opened a restaurant in Panama City in 2010. It also operates four locations in Mexico, two in Chile, and one in the Dominican Republic.

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