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Burger chain Checkers about to make midstate debut

The first of what could be several Checkers restaurants in the Harrisburg area is expected to open at the Harrisburg Mall in the next two weeks.

Co-owner Jimy Patel said he’s awaiting final inspections to open the first Checkers location in the midstate. The Florida-based burger chain has been looking to expand west to Central Pennsylvania and out to Pittsburgh after opening several restaurants in the Philadelphia area and Lehigh Valley.

“If it does well, we’ll do more with Checkers,” said Patel, who operates other franchise brands, including Taco Bell and Subway locations in the region, with his uncle Ken Patel.

The partners have 11 franchise restaurants right now and have opened locations in the York Galleria mall and Harrisburg’s Strawberry Square. 

But they are always looking to diversify their portfolio, said Jimy Patel, a 32-year-old former software engineer who got into the restaurant business about a decade ago. His uncle has more than 20 years of restaurant experience.

“Flexibility is what I enjoy the most and being self-employed,” the younger Patel said.

They had been looking to add a burger brand and the Harrisburg Mall was on their radar, he said. The mall setting is ideal, he added, because of the built-in foot traffic and the marketing costs are generally lower than a free-standing restaurant.

The Patels already are planning to open a Checkers in Norristown. From there, they hope to add more locations in Central Pennsylvania.

“By the end of 2016 or early 2017, if everything goes well, I can see two (more) spots in Harrisburg,” Jimy Patel said.

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