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Publix-backed Restaurant Chain Plans Expansion

LAKELAND, Fla. - Crispers, LLC, a quick-serve restaurant chain that is financially backed by Publix Super Markets, Inc., based here, will begin expanding its presence in the Jacksonville, Fla. area with five new stores by mid-2005. Crispers, which currently operates 23 locations in Central Florida, has said in the past that it plans to open additional locations in that region as well as in South Florida.

Publix said in late July that it had increased its equity investment in the restaurant company, which targets the health-conscious consumer with a variety of salads, sandwiches, and soups. Publix has declined to disclose its investment amount.

Publix made an initial equity investment in Crispers, also based in Lakeland, in 2002 after recognizing the restaurant's growth potential. Over the past two years, Publix's partnership with Crispers has grown to include a test of the restaurant's items in one of Publix's Fort Lauderdale stores. In addition, Crispers now uses Publix Premium Ice Cream for its ice cream desserts.

Crispers' first Jacksonville restaurant was built in a Publix-anchored shopping center. Its future locations have not been announced.
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