EAST MANATEE -- Freddy's, a Wichita Kan.-based steakburger chain, is opening its first Florida franchise in Bradenton.
Freddy's, known for cooked-to-order steakburgers, shoestring fries and frozen custard, is expected to open this month.
"We are extremely excited to bring Freddy's great tastes and quality food to Bradenton", said Cash Shelton, the local owner. "With construction progressing, we are now focusing on the recruitment of high-energy individuals to build our team around. We plan to hire about 75 new team members from the area."
Shelton is retrofitting the former Arby's restaurant at 7376 52nd Place East at Creekwood Crossing for his restaurant. The free-standing building will include indoor and patio seating as well as drive-thru service.
He is opening the restaurant with his family and plans to have a grand opening April 23.
Shelton said his father was in the Pizza Hut business before he retired. He and his family started watching Freddy's because it had a similar culture.
"It's been very appealing," Shelton said. "We watched it for a few years and decided to jump on board before we got left in the dust."
Shelton moved to the area after visiting his father here nearly two decades ago. His father began visiting the area to play polo at the Sarasota Polo grounds and moved here in 1998.
Shelton became a permanent resident last year and immediately started looking for space to open his new Freddy's franchise. He hopes to open a second Freddy's in Sarasota this year.
He said he has the franchise rights to Freddy's restaurants from Manatee County south to Naples, but he expects others will open franchises in other parts of the state.
He said he really doesn't have competition for the Freddy's concept where all food is made to order and frozen custard is made fresh daily.
"The people and the culture really set us apart," he said.