Black franchisee leaving town Fast-food entrepreneur moving headquarters of Urban City to Detroit

Restaurants

November 21, 1998|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

La-Van Hawkins Urban City Foods, the largest African-American franchisee in the country, is in the midst of moving its headquarters from Baltimore to Detroit, where the company expects to make half its sales.

Hawkins, a 37-year-old fast-food entrepreneur originally from Chicago, owns Urban City Foods and Wolverine Pizza, which operate 72 Burger King franchises nationwide -- and plan another 150 by 2001 -- as well as Pizza Hut and Perkins Family Restaurant franchises.

The corporate offices on North Charles Street closed last month and will reopen in downtown Detroit within another month, said Laura Williams, Hawkins' executive administrative assistant. The office employed about a dozen people, she said.

The move to Detroit comes on the heels of Hawkins' acquisition of 89 Detroit Pizza Hut restaurants in July, Williams said.

Hawkins did not return phone calls yesterday.

However, the Detroit News said last week that Hawkins is spending $27 million to renovate the Pizza Hut restaurants in Detroit, including a recently opened 4,200-square-foot Motown and Afrocentric-themed eatery.

Hawkins, who plans to build 10 new Perkins restaurants in Detroit, expects his companies to earn $125 million in the Detroit market alone next year, the newspaper said. He also plans to open Burger Kings in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Washington and New Jersey.

It was unclear yesterday what effect, if any, the move will have DTC on Hawkins' Baltimore-area franchise operations.

Pub Date: 11/21/98

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