Fast-casual seafood restaurant Captain D’s has signed a new franchise development agreement with MH & Sons Enterprises, led by multi-unit operator Maqsood Merchant.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merchant will be responsible for the development of three new restaurants in the Salt Lake City market in Utah, US.

With the latest move, Captain D’s ventures into Utah for the first time.

Captain D’s chief development officer Brad Reed said: “We’re at a significant point in Captain D’s history, with this agreement marking a very special milestone for our brand as we break into our 23rd state and begin work on developing the first Captain D’s restaurants in the Salt Lake City area – all within our 50th year in business.

“Throughout 2019 and over the past several years, we’ve continued to attract best-in-class multi-unit operators with our unique proposition in seafood, strong unit economics and proven record of success, and this deal is a testimony to that.”

Merchant owned and operated several Quiznos and Popeyes restaurants, as well as 7-Eleven convenience stores and gas stations throughout the market.

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The latest agreement marks Merchant’s first with the brand, with the first restaurant set to open in Pleasant Grove.

Merchant said: “Aside from the tremendous opportunity to bring the brand to Utah for the first time, what attracted me most to Captain D’s was its substantial growth over the past several years with much of that growth being fueled by existing operators. Operator reinvestment in a brand showcases its strength and, ultimately, trust in the franchisor of the direction the brand is going in, which motivated me to jump on the opportunity quickly.”

Captain D’s opened more than 12 new restaurants to date. Over the next several years, it is set to expand its presence in new and existing markets such as Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina, Michigan and Oklahoma, as part of multiple agreements signed.

The brand has more than 530 restaurants in 22 states and is currently seeking multi-unit operators to join in its expansion.