An old friend stopped by Keller's Cactus Jack's on Lemmon Avenue and discovered that the longtime burger joint is closing this week;
SaturdayFriday's the last day after 28 years, so stop on by and say hi or bye, says Jon Keller. After that, he's leasing the property to a California-based Carl's Jr. franchisee, who, if all goes according to plan, will begin an extreme burger-joint makeover on Monday in the hopes of getting the doors open in April.
Keller tells Unfair Park today he's been trying to lease the space for the last two years and has had some takers, but all the deals fell through. This time, it's different: One year ago Carl's Jr. announced its plans to open "at least 121 Carl's Jr. restaurants in Texas over the next 10 years," and earlier this month, CKE's CEO Andrew Puzder announced two franchisees who plan on scattering their patties throughout the Southeast and Central Texas, reaching as far as north as Waco.
The operator taking over the Cactus Jack's space appears to have more in the works up in this part of the state. I've left several messages for Carl's Jr. spokesperson Beth Mansfield to discuss.
Update at 3:19 p.m.: By the way, this isn't one of the RWJP Star Enterprises Carl's Jr. locations. Those guys do have a big piece of Texas (including some of Dallas and Houston), but RWJP, which is the one hoping to open 121 franchises in the next seven years, isn't in Dallas just yet.
RWJP's Ted Croft, a former Brinker exec in charge of their gift-card business, tells Unfair Park they're as close as Denton and are planning on Port Arthur and Longview next before hitting the DFW. Mansfield does confirm, though: The Lemmon Ave. spot is the first stand-alone store announced for Dallas, and she, for one, is delighted: "My brother-in-law in Grapevine has been hounding me for three years."
Mansfield says the Lemmon location is one of the Star Foods Investors Group locations -- Star Foods being a Los Angeles-based franchisee that announced one year ago that it's opening 32 Carl's Jr. locations in Dallas.
But Keller -- who also operated a Cactus Jack's at Hillcrest Avenue and Northwest Highway till May 1988 -- says, "I have a lot of confidence in his ability," referring to the franchisee.
As for what he plans to now, Keller says he's going to work for his dad -- you know, running the Keller's Drive-Ins? Burgers are in his blood, after all. In a good way.
"And in talking it over with my wife, I don't know what it'll be like," Keller says. "I've had my own place since 1979. It'll be strange not to have my own restaurant to walk in to every day, but you move on. I don't know what's next. I am excited about moving on. I don't know what he'll give me to do, but I needed a job, and he offered."
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