Pompano firm acquires 34 Wendy’s restaurants in Knoxville

JAE Restaurant Group LLC now owns 213 Wendy's restaurants in four states, including 137 in Florida, according to its website

Jhonny Mercado, co-chairman of JAE Restaurant Group LLC
Jhonny Mercado, co-chairman of JAE Restaurant Group LLC

A Pompano Beach-based company bought 34 Wendy’s restaurants in Knoxville, Tennessee.

JAE Restaurant Group LLC paid an undisclosed price to The Wendy’s Company of Dublin, Ohio, for the Knoxville restaurants.

The sale was part of a plan by The Wendy’s Company to adopt a predominantly franchised business model and to reduce its company-owned restaurants to 5 percent of the 6,500 Wendy’s restaurants.

According to its website, JAE now owns 213 Wendy’s restaurants in four states, including 137 in Florida.

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JAE this year plans to remodel four Wendy’s restaurants in Knoxville by installing fireplaces, Wi-Fi access, digital menu boards and flat-screen television sets.

Over the next four years, JAE expects to remodel the rest of its Wendy’s restaurants in Knoxville and to open 10 new ones there.

JAE is investing in the Wendy’s brand in Knoxville because of its “friendly tax environment, affordable housing, younger population and large number of university students,” said Jhonny Mercado, co-chairman of JAE.

The Pompano Beach company sees Knoxville as “an underpenetrated market for the brand,” Mercado said.

In 2016, JAE acquired 97 Wendy’s locations in southeast Florida. JAE is owned by Mercado, Andres Garcia and Eddie Rodriguez, who opened their first Wendy’s in 1993 in Hialeah. [South Florida Business Journal]Mike Seemuth