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Three partners hope to either open or sell Highway 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries franchises in the Fredericksburg area
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By Cathy Jett
A TELEVISION special about the owner of a North Carolina-based burger chain has inspired a career change for a Virginia Beach couple and their business partner.
Bob and Jamie Schuster and Doug King have become the master franchisees for Highway 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries in the eastern part of Virginia and plan to open or sell 50 franchises--including some in this area--for the 1950s-style restaurant chain.
"Our focus at this point is getting our first store open in Virginia Beach the first week in June, but we have real estate people looking around," said Bob Schuster, a former underground utility contractor.
"I'm familiar with the Fredericksburg area because we did a lot of work in Northern Virginia. I definitely wanted Fredericksburg and the surrounding area because I know the potential is there."
Highway 55 is the new name of a 21-year-old business that may be more familiar to area residents as Andy's Burgers, Shakes & Fries. The company, whose headquarters is in Mount Olive, N.C., changed the name on Feb. 24 to avoid a potential legal battle over the federal trademark as it prepared to expand outside of its home state.
"It had to be an odd name because anything common was pretty much taken already," founder and president Kenny Moore told BurgerBusiness.com recently after winning the burger industry-tracking website's 2012 Burger Brackets. It bested Ted's Montana Grill for the title.
"It was our attorney who steered us there and said, 'What about a highway or a road?' That spurred us on," Moore said.
Inspiration was close at hand. North Carolina Highway 55 goes right through Mount Olive.
Highway 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries currently has more than 100 locations in North Carolina, most of which are in the eastern part of the Tar Heel state. It has worked out master franchisees deals to open 75 more in the western part, 100 in Florida and 50 in South Carolina, as well as the 50 in Virginia, within the next five to 10 years.
The Schusters and King figure their franchises alone will create at least 1,500 jobs.
"To be able to help bring jobs at a time when the economy is so bad and to be able to serve the community with a fun family meal that's not expensive It's just a great thing," said Jami Schuster.