{ business directory }

FREDDY’S FROZEN CUSTARD & STEAKBURGERS

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers has plans to move into Fort Smith.

The Wichita, Kan.-based restaurant chain plans to be in the former KFC at 7719 Rogers Ave. toward the end of this year.

Phil Perkins, market manager for Freddy’s, said demolition for the remodel is set to begin Monday.

Perkins also said the company is exploring the potential for a Van Buren location. There are, however, at least five other projects in front of it, he said, including Freddy’s at West Memphis, Benton and Conway.

Arkansas is already home to several Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers locations — Fayetteville, Springdale and Rogers — with dozens in Oklahoma and more than 240 restaurants nationwide in 30 states.

Freddy’s noted earlier this year on its website the company wrapped up a year of record growth in 2016 and is poised for its strongest year yet in unit-count growth for 2017. The company was founded in 2002 by brothers Bill and Randy Simon with friend and business partner Scott Redler. It is named for Bill and Randy’s father, Freddy Simon.

“The fast-casual restaurant concept expects to open approximately 70 new restaurants by the end of this year in existing and new markets, including three new states,” the website stated earlier this year.

Freddy’s ended 2016 with 59 new restaurants, requiring approximately $120 million in development spending nationwide, and landed at 40 percent year-over-year new-restaurant growth. The restaurant concept opened in four new states in 2016 (Alabama, Louisiana, Michigan and Montana), increasing its state count to 30 and setting the stage for it to open for the first time in Wyoming, Maryland and Mississippi in 2017.

Among other highlights for Freddy’s in 2016, the company’s co-founder and namesake Freddy Simon was featured on Veterans Day as “Person of the Week” on ABC’s “World News Tonight.”

“Sharing my dad’s story with the country was a proud moment for the company and our family,” Randy Simon, Freddy’s CFO, said in a news release at the company website. “As a WWII veteran and a successful service-industry executive in his earlier professional life, Freddy gives each of us something we can aspire to do. He reminds us what it means to extend genuine hospitality to every guest who chooses to dine at Freddy’s.”

Though Freddy’s celebrated a big year, the successes were tempered by the loss of Bill Simon, co-founder, president and CEO, in December after a battle with cancer.

According to the company history, Freddy Simon grew up on a farm near Colwich, Kan., and fought for the U.S. Army around the Pacific Rim during World War II. He earned the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his service and returned home safely. Following the war, he worked for 56 years while raising his family. He believes he is “the luckiest man in the world.” In between his visits to high school history classes, Freddy Simon participates in veterans groups and takes part in World War II memorial events across the United States.