Westward Ho! Nevada Franchise Deal Launches Max & Erma’s Western Expansion

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Max & Erma’s Restaurants (NASDAQ:MAXE) , for more than three decades a familiar sight on the Midwest landscape, will soon begin expansion west of the Mississippi after signing a franchise deal with the Phoenix Hospitality Group of Las Vegas.

Phoenix Hospitality Group purchased the Max & Erma’s franchise rights to the state of Nevada. Initial plans call for Phoenix Hospitality to construct 10 restaurants in Las Vegas, Reno and Carson City, Max & Erma’s Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer Rob Lindeman announced today.

The first restaurant will be built in Las Vegas and ground could be broken before the end of 2005.

The franchise deal is the first of several expected in the West over the next 12 months. Lindeman said he is in negotiation with potential franchisees in Arizona, Utah and Washington. Max & Erma’s also plans to file registration papers in California within 30 days.

“This is an exciting time for Max & Erma’s,” Lindeman said. “We believe there is the potential to build 300 restaurants in the West over the next decade. We’ve honed our brand in the Midwest. The time is right for creating a presence in an area of the country with great growth potential.

“We’ve been talking to several potential franchisees regarding development opportunities in the West and we continue to get calls almost daily from experienced restaurant operators who are interested in Max & Erma’s. Multi- unit franchisees understand the quality of our brand and the investment potential of our concept. Fortunately, there’s a lot of room for a concept such as Max & Erma’s, which focuses on quality, to expand in the West.”

Phoenix Hospitality Group is owned by Healey Mendicino and Hans Johns. The company operates several other restaurants, and owns and manages numerous real estate holdings in Las Vegas.

“Hans and I were fans of Max & Erma’s before we decided to explore it as a franchise opportunity,” Mendicino said. “We loved the concept. Consequently, when we decided to explore a casual dining franchise, Max & Erma’s was a natural.”

“Working with the people at Max & Erma’s has been a great experience. We’re so excited to open the first franchise in this part of the country. We can’t wait to turn over the first shovel full of dirt and get our restaurant open. We’re going to make Max & Erma’s a prominent sight on the Nevada landscape.”

After opening its first franchise restaurant at Port Columbus International Airport in December 1997, Max and Erma’s now has 22 franchise restaurants with commitments for 35.

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Max & Erma’s entered its fourth decade in business in 2003. From a single, neighborhood restaurant that opened in 1972 in the German Village section of Columbus, Max & Erma’s has grown to more than 100 company-owned and franchise casual dining restaurants, located primarily in the Midwest and Southeast. The company is traded on the NASDAQ National Market System under the symbol, MAXE.

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