McAlister’s Deli®, a leading fast casual chain, has announced that it signed franchise agreements with a new franchise group to open five restaurants in the Phoenix market over the next four years. The brand is targeting Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler and Gilbert to open the new locations. Currently, McAlister’s has two locations on North Tatum Blvd. in Phoenix and on West Bell Rd. in Peoria.

Franchisees Jyoti Madhura, Preet Saini and Sanjiv Bhagat have extensive multi-unit franchising experience as owners of multiple restaurant concepts and service brands in Las Vegas, California and Phoenix. The franchise group is aiming to open its first McAlister’s location next summer.

“As McAlister’s looks to expand throughout the West Coast, Arizona plays an important role in our growth strategy. With only two locations in the entire state, we have significant opportunity to grow our footprint, particularly in Phoenix,” said McAlister’s Vice President of Franchise Development Jeff Sturgis. “Jyoti, Preet and Sanjiv have a strong background operating restaurants across the Western U.S. and we’re thrilled they have joined McAlister’s.”

“Arizona’s restaurant industry is thriving as residents, especially Millennials, are dining out more and eager to try new concepts,” said Saini. “Coupled with the fact that these days more people are choosing healthier food options, it was a strategic choice to find a brand that offered healthier menu items for residents. Additionally, fast casual is the fastest-growing segment of the restaurant industry, so we’re confident McAlister’s will do incredibly well in Phoenix and are excited to grow the brand’s presence here.”

Technomic® has recognized McAlister’s twice in its Consumers’ Choice Awards for Chain Restaurants — in 2015 as top fast casual chain for pleasant, friendly service and in 2014 as the top kid-friendly fast casual chain. Franchise Business Review named McAlister’s one of its “Best Franchise Opportunities for 2015” in its Franchisee Satisfaction Awards, as well as a “Top Franchise” in 2014 based on franchisee satisfaction. In 2015, Nation’s Restaurant News named McAlister’s the No.12 limited-service chain in its Consumer Picks Survey. also recognized the brand on its “Top 100 Movers and Shakers” list of 2015. This year, QSR Magazine recognized the brand as one of the “Best Franchise Deals” and last year named McAlister’s to its QSR 50 list, ranking 13th for U.S. average sales per unit in 2013.