Make us your home page
Instagram

Checkers opens restaurant in Walmart as part of resurgence in growth

OLDSMAR

“Crazy good food" meets "save money, live better" in a new partnership between Checkers restaurants and Walmart.

The Tampa-based burgers and fries chain this week opened a location inside the Walmart Supercenter at 3801 Tampa Road in Oldsmar. It's the first nationwide and part of Checkers' resurgence after years of sluggish sales. Another is planned for a Walmart store in Haymarket, Va.

"We've had a really strong run in the last 2 ½ years," said Taylor Warner, vice president of real estate, construction and company development. "We were once known as a double drive-through concept. Now we have a full portfolio of designs that have translated into a lot of interest."

Located at Walmart's market entrance, the Checkers has seating for 50 in a mix of shiny red booths, tables and a counter with high-top chairs. It has the traditional red and black checkerboard decor, but with a more modern, sleek style. Hours have not been set but will include breakfast, a first for the lunch, dinner and late-night chain.

The restaurant is one of three new Tampa Bay locations after years of stagnant growth. One at Missouri Avenue and Belleair Road in Clearwater reopened in May and another at East Bay Drive and Fulton Street in Largo is scheduled to reopen early next year. Both were owned by a franchisee who fell upon hard times and closed the stores in 2010.

The privately owned chain, which also includes Rally's restaurants, has about 800 locations nationwide, about 300 of them company-owned. It's known mostly for its burgers, including the Big Buford, and fries, but also serves chicken wings, shakes and sundaes.

The Walmart restaurant reflects Checkers' shift from sites with double drive-throughs and no indoor seating. The 26-year-old chain now has locations in strip centers with single drive-throughs, standalone buildings, kiosks, college student unions and even airports.

The variety has helped the bottom line. Same-store sales are up 7 percent for company-owned locations and 5 percent for franchisees over last year, said Jennifer Durham, vice president of franchise development. That's about double the fast-food industry average of about 3 percent, according to the National Restaurant Association, and well ahead of some of its competitors. Last week, McDonald's reported sales at U.S. restaurants open more than a year dipped 2.2 percent — the first decline in monthly same-store sales in nine years.

The Checkers chain has had 17 months in a row of positive growth, thanks to an emphasis on its value menu and redesign of some of its restaurants, Warner said. Inquiries about franchising are up 300 percent over last year.

Company officials credit some of that buzz to their business model. Opening a franchise costs about $500,000 — not including the real estate — compared with $1.1 million for some competitors, Durham said. The average location generates about $900,000 a year in sales.

Moving into Walmart seemed like a good fit for the chain, which has about 50 locations in the Tampa Bay area. Both attract shoppers seeking value and convenience.

Walmart will monitor the Checkers partnership but, so far, has no plans to add other locations. Other Walmart Supercenters have Subway and McDonald's restaurants, as well as nail salons and banks.

"We lease space to many businesses all aimed at providing customers with the products and services that help them have a one-stop shopping experience," said Bill Wertz, a Walmart spokesman. "We're always testing new options."

Shoppers quickly embraced the Checkers at the Oldsmar Walmart, which opened Monday. Josh Bateman, 23, of Palm Harbor saw it under construction and came back Tuesday to combine lunch with some shopping.

"It's better than McDonald's," he said. "The fries are better and the burgers are better. The condiments are great, especially the chopped onions."

About Checkers

800 locations nationwide (including Rally's)

300 locations nationwide that are company owned

3 new Tampa Bay locations

$900,000 average sales per location a year

On the menu: burgers, including the Big Buford, and fries, but also chicken wings, shakes and sundaes

Checkers opens restaurant in Walmart as part of resurgence in growth 11/13/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24

    Retail

    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights

    Business

    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.

    Yet.

    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]