“These (franchisees) buy Johnny Rockets because they want Johnny Rockets,” he said. “They don’t want a knockoff.”
A couple hundred more restaurants in the next couple of years is the goal, according to Fuller.
During that time, he said, growth should be split between U.S. and global restaurant openings.
Late last month, a franchisee opened a Johnny Rockets in Folsom—the chain’s third in Sacramento County.
The development agreement there gives the franchisee the right to build two more restaurants in the next several years.
A Johnny Rockets featuring a full bar, appetizers and TVs airing sports opened at Universal CityWalk earlier this year.
The sports lounge idea has worked in two New York locations, Fuller said. Another is set to open in Cincinnati by mid-August.
“Some of the locations that operators wanted to go in had a lot of extra space,” Fuller said. “They wanted to get creative so they added a full bar and appetizers. It’s more on a one-off basis than a strategic rollout.”
More company-owned restaurants also are planned.
Johnny Rockets now runs 27 diners itself with the rest franchised.
The first company restaurant to open in four years is set to begin operating this summer at Monterey’s Cannery Row.
RedZone bought Johnny Rockets in 2007, a time when “everyone started going negative in the restaurant business,” Fuller said.
Economic circumstances made it difficult to justify growing the roster of company-owned diners at the time, he said.
“The company is performing really well right now and the opportunities to grow domestically and internationally have never been greater,” Fuller said. “So we’re going to try to take advantage of that.”