MANATEE -- Keke's Breakfast Cafe will bring seven locations to the Manatee-Sarasota area beginning with three in Bradenton, Sarasota and University Park.
Construction on the Keke's in University Park began last week, according to Keke's owner and franchisor Kevin Mahem. He hopes to have that location in addition to locations at 1121 Cortez Road W. in Bradenton and 3456 Clark Road in Sarasota finished and open by the end of the summer.
"I hate to make projections on openings because all kinds of things happen in construction," Mahem said. Barring any unforeseen issues, the buildouts should take between 90 and 120 days. he said.
The franchise chain expanded as far as Tampa before venturing farther south. Keke's franchisees can expect to put up between $347,000 and $937,000 for one franchise location, according to the Keke's website.
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"When we went into Sarasota three franchisees bought seven locations," Mahem said. "Eventually there will be seven."
Another location is planned for Largo, north of St. Petersburg.
The daytime restaurant is based in Orlando, though Mahem called the company a "northeast concept." Sarasota's combination of native northeasterners and a "thriving community" make it suitable for Keke's expansion.
"Sarasota is a great place," Mahem said. "(The northeast concept) seems to be received very well by people from the north and there's a big part of the population in Sarasota that are northerners who have been transplanted."
Mahem and his brother Keith started Keke's and named the restaurants after themselves. The brothers took the first two letters of their first names and put them together to create Keke's.
Keke's Breakfast Cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and serves a variety of breakfast and lunch dishes all day.
Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow her on Twitter@jayohday.