Burger 21 Launches National Franchise Expansion

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Johnston Brothers Take New Concept National to Capitalize on Better Burger Business

TAMPA, Fla., -- Owners of The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc. announced today the national franchise launch of Burger 21( R ), a new fast casual concept featuring 21 chef-inspired burger creations, hand-dipped signature shakes and more. Burger 21 opened its first corporate-owned restaurant in Tampa, Fla., in November 2010 with a second slated to open this fall. Now, its founders will take the "beyond the better burger " concept national and offer franchising opportunities to qualified single and multi-unit candidates.

Chief Concept Officer Mark Johnston, his wife, Concept Development Director Arlene Johnston, and his brothers, Chief Executive Officer Bob Johnston and Vice President Mike Johnston, founded Burger 21 in November 2009. Leveraging more than 25 years of franchising experience, the Johnston family recognized an opportunity to introduce a higher quality product in a rapidly growing foodservice category.

"We saw an opportunity to fill a void in the burger business, which has plenty of quick-service burger joints, a number of traditional, better burger establishments and even upscale, full-service burger restaurants," said Mark Johnston, chief concept officer of Front Burner Brands, management company for Burger 21. "The Burger 21 concept defines its own category - beyond the better burger - and offers quality, premium ingredients, innovative recipes and a gourmet experience without the gourmet price."

Burger 21's menu and recipes are chef-inspired with many of the craft burgers , shakes, fries and dipping sauces originally created under the guidance of a classically trained chef. Guests can select from 11 hand-crafted beef burgers made from fresh ground chuck or one of the 10 beef-alternative burgers made with sushi-grade Ahi Tuna, shrimp, turkey, chicken, vegetables or black beans.

"Since opening the doors to our first restaurant less than a year ago, Burger 21 has received rave reviews in Tampa and has experienced impressive sales that are exceeding the company's expectations and other select better burger concepts," said Bob Johnston, CEO of Front Burner Brands. "We have fine-tuned the concept and leveraged our collective franchising experience to create an innovative restaurant that is positioned for enormous growth."

To expand its footprint, Burger 21 has embarked on an aggressive growth strategy that includes initial development efforts focusing on Florida and extending into select markets along the East Coast. Over time, Burger 21 will broaden its expansion efforts into markets in the Midwest and along the West Coast.

To fuel Burger 21's growth, the company is seeking single and multi-unit operators with foodservice and/or restaurant experience. Franchisee candidates should have a passion for and commitment to exceptional customer service, as well as possess the resources and ability to open their first unit within 12 months and each additional unit at a maximum of 12-month intervals. They also should have a minimum net worth of $500,000 and liquid assets of at least $200,000.

Burger 21 has a contemporary-style diner atmosphere with nostalgic elements. The shake bar is in the center of the restaurant surrounded by plenty of seating inside and outside. And, a sauce bar features a large variety of dipping sauces that offer unique flavors to accompany the regular and sweet potato fries. The concept is designed to operate within 2,400 to 3,000 square feet.

Burger 21 will be developed through single-unit agreements and Area Development Agreements that require a minimum of three to five units in primary and secondary markets. Depending on the real estate site selected, franchisees can expect the total cost of investment for one restaurant to be approximately $513,495 - $733,995. The initial franchise fee is $40,000; however, a 20 percent discount is applied to all franchises sold by June 21, 2012. Reduced franchise fees also apply for Area Development Agreements of four or more units.

This month, Front Burner Brands was officially launched as the restaurant management company for Burger 21, The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc. and GrillSmith restaurants. Headquartered in Tampa, Front Burner Brands will serve as the umbrella organization for the three concepts and other concepts in development while creating efficiencies with operations, purchasing and distribution, marketing, communications, training and other support functions.

To learn more about ownership opportunities with Burger 21, contact Dan Stone, vice president of franchise development for Front Burner Brands at 813-425-6208 and dstone@burger21.com, or www.burger21franchise.com.

About Burger 21
Burger 21, a fast casual dining restaurant founded in 2010, is a chef-inspired concept with offerings including 21 unique burger creations ranging from hand-crafted, freshly ground beef to chicken, turkey, shrimp and tuna burgers , made-to-order salads, Hebrew National hot dogs and an extensive shake bar including hand-dipped floats, malts, shakes and sundaes. Burger 21 is an affiliate of Front Burner Brands, a restaurant management company headquartered in Tampa, Fla. For more information, visit www.burger21franchise.com.

About Front Burner Brands
Front Burner Brands (formerly known as TGS Management) is a restaurant management company headquartered in Tampa, Fla. It is affiliated with the corporate owners of and its management services extended to The Melting Pot Restaurants, founded in 1975 with more than 140 location in North America and more than 15 locations currently in development, GrillSmith with six locations in the Tampa Bay area, Burger 21 with one location open in Tampa and one location currently in development and other new franchise concepts in development. For more information, visit www.frontburnerbrands.com




The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



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