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Tampa-based fast-food restaurant to open in Hagerstown

Checkers is opening on Dual Highway by the end of the month

November 15, 2012|By KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com
  • Misbah Malik is opening a Checkers restaurant on Dual Highway in Hagerstown.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

The Checkers sign will soon be a familiar sight to motorists on Hagerstown’s Dual Highway.

The fast-food restaurant chain plans to open an outlet in the city by the end of the month.

In addition to burgers, wings and fries, the restaurant will bring jobs to the area.

Misbah Malik, who co-owns the franchise with two other business partners — Mahmood Ahmad and Mushtaq Cheema — said this week that the restaurant will employ 14 people full time and will have another 26 part-time employees.

The location will have one drive-through window and will seat 42 patrons, Malik said.

Checkers has about 800 restaurants nationwide, but this is the first time that the privately owned company based in Tampa, Fla., is opening a restaurant in Washington County.

And there is one more coming.

“The Hagerstown location is the first of two planned for this area and the franchise has a development agreement that Misbah (Malik) is actively working on,” Jennifer Durham, vice president of franchise development for the company, said in an emailed message.

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Malik said no decision has been made on where the other restaurant will be located, but he is scouting around.

The new Checkers will be right next to a Sonic fast-food outlet and there is a McDonald’s restaurant right across the road.

Malik said he was not fazed by the competition. In fact, it might be an advantage because a cluster of restaurants can bring in a lot of customers, he said.

“It is just like when you have three or four gas-stations in the same area. This is a great location. You have easy in and out access to Dual Highway and we are close to the freeway,” Malik said.

Malik, who is originally from Pakistan, has lived in Washington County for about a decade.

Nineteen years ago, he immigrated to the United States hoping to become a doctor.

That never happened.

Instead, Malik graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in business administration.

“I worked part-time jobs at several fast-food restaurants, including a Subway and Shakey’s Pizza in Los Angeles,” Malik said.

Soon, he co-owned a Subway franchise in Los Angeles.

Now, Malik is an old hand at restaurant franchises.

He is an operating partner at a Hagerstown Popeyes restaurant and also owns a Coldstone Creamery in the city.

“Hagerstown has a lot of potential to grow. It is a nice family-oriented city,” said Malik, who lives in Hagerstown with his wife and three children.

According to a Reuters report in August, the Checkers chain of restaurants is up for sale.

Malik said that any possible sale was unlikely to affect local franchises.

“We are not currently able to comment on the potential sale of the company,” said Durham, the vice president  of franchise development at the company.

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