Two of America’s largest family dining chains have set their international expansion sights on the Middle East.

Denny’s signed a franchise agreement today with Advance Investment, an affiliated entity of Food Quest Restaurant Management, for the development of 30 new Denny's restaurants in nine countries in the Middle East over the next 10 years.

Advance Investment is looking to open restaurants in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan. The first restaurant is slated to open in 2015 in the United Arab Emirates.

This new agreement expands Denny’s “unopened international pipeline to over 60 restaurants,” says John Miller, Denny’s president and CEO. The brand opened its first international restaurant in 1966 in Acapulco, Mexico and has since expanded its footprint to 11 countries and U.S. territories, including 100 locations in Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guam, Honduras, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and New Zealand. With the newest agreement, the company is poised to hit 1,700 restaurants worldwide.

On January 2, DineEquity, parent company of Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP restaurants, announced the opening of its first IHOP restaurant in Saudia Arabia, the fifth since 2012. Under the brand’s multi-franchise agreement with H. Alshaya Co. (“Alshaya”), a leading international franchise operator, the development of 40 restaurants across the Middle East and North Africa are planned, with further expansion into additional markets, including Lebanon, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and Egypt.  

The agreement with Alshaya, first penned in 2011, marked the first major expansion of the IHOP chain outside of North America and represented the largest international development deal in the brand’s history. As of September 2013, there were 1,602 IHOP restaurants in 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, the Philippines, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


By Joann Whitcher

Casual Dining, Chain Restaurants, Industry News, Denny's, IHOP