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O'Charley's Inc. Continues Franchise Program Momentum; Signs New Wisconsin Joint Venture Franchisee; Franchised Location in Lafayette, LA Opens.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- O'Charley's Inc. (NASDAQ/NM:CHUX) today announced two significant new developments in its O'Charley's franchising program. With these announcements, the Company has extended franchising to three states - Michigan, Louisiana and Wisconsin.

O'Charley's Inc. signed an exclusive multi-unit franchise development agreement with Wi-Tenn Restaurants, LLC to develop and operate O'Charley's restaurants in Wisconsin. Wi-Tenn Restaurants, LLC is led by president and chief executive officer Rick Arras, a 25-year restaurant veteran who most recently served as president and chief executive officer of Shoney's Restaurants. Prior to that time, Mr. Arras was president and chief operating officer of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and was president and chief operating officer of Perkins Restaurant and Bakery for 10 years. Mr. Arras is joined by executive vice president and chief operating officer Steve Pahl, a Perkins franchisee in the Green Bay, Wisconsin, area. Mr. Pahl is a 16-year senior operations veteran of Perkins, having most recently served as their vice president of operations for more than 300 restaurants until leaving the company in 2003. The agreement specifies Wi-Tenn Restaurants, LLC will develop 10 new O'Charley's restaurants with the first O'Charley's restaurant expected to open in fall 2005. Similar to the Company's agreement with its Louisiana franchisee, JFC Enterprises, LLC, the agreement is structured as a seed joint venture whereby Wi-Tenn Investors, LLC, the Company's joint venture partner, provides an equity investment, O'Charley's Inc. provides a line of credit and long-term debt is provided through a third party.

The Company also announced that Louisiana franchisee, JFC Enterprises, LLC, celebrated the opening of its first O'Charley's restaurant in Lafayette, Louisiana, on November 3, 2004. The 270-seat restaurant features all of O'Charley's signature elements such as open seating and a bar area with high quality finishes and decor as well as a mural depicting local history and culture. JFC's second O'Charley's restaurant is expected to open in June 2005 in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Gregory L. Burns, chairman and chief executive officer of O'Charley's Inc., said, "The expansion of our O'Charley's franchise program advances two important strategic initiatives. It broadens awareness and the geographic reach of the O'Charley's brand and represents continued progress in our transformation into a leading-edge, multi-concept, vertically integrated enterprise."

Zeb Hastings, vice president of franchising for the O'Charley's concept, stated, "This agreement and the opening of the first O'Charley's in Louisiana are important milestones in the continued growth of our franchising program and clearly demonstrate the appeal of the O'Charley's concept. Very few casual dining concepts offer experienced franchisees the positioning that O'Charley's can provide, such as competitive economics and an opportunity to own and operate a leading concept in exclusive territories in major markets. We expect to continue to capitalize on the advantages of our franchising program to attract a growing number of experienced and qualified franchisees."

O'Charley's Inc. operates 221 company-owned O'Charley's restaurants in 16 states in the Southeast and Midwest with two franchised O'Charley's restaurants in Louisiana and Michigan. The menu, with an emphasis on fresh preparation, features several specialty items such as hand-cut and aged steaks, a variety of seafood and chicken, freshly baked yeast rolls, fresh-cut salads with special-recipe salad dressings and signature caramel pie. The Company also operates Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub in 97 locations throughout Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Ninety Nine has earned a strong reputation for providing generous portions of high-quality food at moderate prices in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. The menu features a wide selection of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, entrees and desserts. In addition, the Company operates six Stoney River Legendary Steaks restaurants in Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee. The dinner-only steakhouse concept appeals to both upscale casual dining and fine dining customers by offering high-quality food and attentive customer service typical of high-end steakhouses at more moderate prices.

This press release and statements made by or on behalf of the Company relating hereto may be deemed to constitute forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements may be affected by certain risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, the Company's ability to successfully implement its franchising initiative and the other risks described in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In light of the significant uncertainties inherent in the forward-looking statements included herein, you should not regard the inclusion of such information as a representation by us that our objectives, plans and projected results of operations will be achieved and the Company's actual results could differ materially from such forward-looking statements. The Company does not undertake any obligation to publicly release any revisions to the forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect events and circumstances occurring after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 29, 2004
Words:798
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