03/24/14 — Hwy 55 franchise now in Middle East

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Hwy 55 franchise now in Middle East

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on March 24, 2014 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Andy's burger has officially gone international.

A company based out of the United Arab Emirates, Allied Brothers Co., has opened up the first Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes & Fries not located in the United States. The store's official address is Al Muroor Road, Shop No. 10, in Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates.

Bobby Parker, the public relations manager at Hwy 55, said the store is on the ground floor of one of the many towers that comprise the Middle Eastern city of more than 2 million people.

The Allied Brothers Co. already has the rights to a number of franchises in the international region including Shaky Jakes (an English '50s shake joint), Yam Yam to Go (think Subway with noodles and rice) and Diego (Argentinean food chain created by a soccer player). The company purchased the rights for Hwy 55 with consideration for further expansion throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Parker said that Allied Brothers Co. contacted Hwy 55's main office after finding the restaurant franchise on the Internet. After the initial contact, representatives from the company flew into Mount Olive, learned how to run a typical chain of the restaurant, sampled the menu and made the decision to go through with the store's business model.

The only changes to the menu for the international clientele was a major scale back of the bacon items in the restaurant. Most people in the United Arab Emirates are Muslims who don't eat pork products. As for the rest of the food, it would taste the same as any of the other entrees found in a Hwy 55 restaurant, Parker said.

"We ship the items and food over to them. They get all the same things over there," Parker said.

Executives of Allied Brothers Co. also liked Hwy 55's idea of "servant leadership," where minimum wage employees can eventually work their way up to becoming restaurant owners, Parker said. For example, the Hwy 55 owners in South Carolina used to work as employees in a Hwy 55 before owning multiple restaurant chains.

So far, business has been good for the new restaurant in the United Arab Emirates, and the first two weeks have been successful.

Parker said that success of Hwy 55 in the Middle Eastern country is roughly the same reason that Middle Eastern food is popular in the United States -- it's something different than what people normally eat.

The opening of the United Arab Emirates location jumps off the past year's total of 21 other Hwy 55 restaurants opening across the United States. Originally started in Goldsboro in 1991, the franchise's food is now available 110 restaurants in North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, South Carolina and Florida and soon to be in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Alabama. Another international restaurant, this one in Toronto, Canada, is also scheduled to open.

Hwy 55 founder Kenny Moore is currently in the United Arab Emirates for the grand opening of the new restaurant. Roughly 23 years ago, he used $500 to open his first restaurant, named after his son, Andy, in Berkeley Mall in Goldsboro.

In 2012, the company changed its name from Andy's to Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries to be able to get a federal trademark.