Johnny Rockets location in Texas. Photo by David R. Tribble[CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons.
Johnny Rockets location in Texas. Photo by David R. Tribble[CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons.

Johnny Rockets announced Monday what it called the largest development deal in the brand’s history — a plan to open 100 restaurants in China, with the first scheduled to open in 2016.

Johnny Rockets restaurants appear to focus on 1950s culture in the United States, even though the company’s website insists restaurants are “not confined to any decade or era.” Features include 50s-era decor, jukebox-era rock music, seats and counters offering the “original hamburger,” “shakes and floats” and even cherry and vanilla Cokes, all 1950s staples recalled fondly by Baby Boomers.

The hamburger restaurant company said in a statement issued at its Aliso Viejo headquarters that it has entered into partnership with a joint venture between AUM Hospitality and Parkson Retail Group Ltd. AUM Hospitality is a multi-brand food and beverage developer and currently works as franchise partner and operator for Johnny Rockets in Malaysia. Parkson Retail Group is a member of a conglomerate based in Malaysia and a department store operator with an extensive network of more than 130 stores, including more than 60 in China.

“We are excited to enter into a franchise relationship with this joint venture,” said Scott Chorna, senior vice president of International Development for Johnny Rockets. The company, according to its website, already operates 330 owned and franchised restaurants in 32 states and 27 countries and sells about 17 million hamburgers a year. The first Johnny Rockets opened on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles in 1986.

“With AUM Hospitality’s success in the food and beverage industry and Parkson Retail Group’s proven track record in operating major retail outlets, this is an ideal partnership for Johnny Rockets entry into China,” he said. “Moreover, there is a strong demand in China for American brands, as well as a growing middle class population with more spending power.”

The brand has previously launched successful development deals in Asian countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, South Korea and Indonesia. Johnny Rockets’ first location in China is expected to open in early 2016, “with an initial focus on developing the brand in Parkson-owned malls and other top malls and retail areas in Shanghai and Beijing.”

— Staff and wire reports

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