US-based fast-casual seafood restaurant Captain D’s is set to open new stores in South Florida and North Carolina.

As part of its growth strategy, the company has signed two franchise development agreements with multi-unit operators, National Football League (NFL) retiree Donnell Thompson and Harborside Holdings Corporation president Josh Royal.

Royal will expand the chain’s presence with three stores in Belle Glade, Riviera Beach and Lehigh Acres, marking Captain D’s entry in South Florida.

The first of the three locations will open in late 2019.

“When I was introduced to the Captain D’s brand, it was immediately apparent that the company shared my commitment to guest-centric values.”

Currently, Royal operates ten Popeye’s locations in South Florida and previously owned Burger King franchises.

Royal said: “Captain D’s unparalleled support system and outstanding corporate team made it the obvious choice for us when we decided it was time to diversify our portfolio.

“Much of the brand’s growth over the past several years has been fuelled by existing franchisees, which speaks volumes to how the company goes above and beyond to ensure their operators succeed.”

NFL retiree Donnell Thompson will open a new restaurant in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It is also scheduled to open in late 2019.

Thompson has over 20 years of experience in the quick service and fast casual segment. He owns and operates a number of Denny’s restaurants throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

Commenting on the franchise development agreement, Thompson said: “Through my experience as a Denny’s franchise owner, I’ve learned that serving affordable, high-quality products in a warm and welcoming environment is the key to keeping customers coming back for more.

“When I was introduced to the Captain D’s brand, it was immediately apparent that the company shared my commitment to guest-centric values, and I knew it was the perfect fit.”

Captain D’s operates 536 restaurants in 22 states, serving a range of seafood including hand-battered fish, grilled shrimp, surf and turf and hushpuppies.