Huddle up, DeLand: Huddle House wants to come to town.

America’s iconic Southern diner franchise, Huddle House, announced recently that it is interested in spreading its small-town charm to DeLand, one of several potential locations in the region.

“In 2020, we’ve fought hard to maintain our place in our communities and be a spot locals can depend on, no matter what. That commitment to the customers we serve has paid off and now we’re ready to resume our strategic growth efforts in priority markets, particularly DeLand,” Tim Linderman, chief development officer of Huddle House, said in a news release.

Atlanta-based Huddle House has 11 other restaurants in Florida, mostly in northern and western parts of the state. The closest location is in Palatka, according to the company’s website.

“DeLand is a natural next step for Huddle House as we look to grow post-COVID in Florida. We know the community is eager to welcome new businesses, and the available real estate and local consumer base of DeLand is a perfect fit for us,” Linderman said.

But before Huddle House can open in DeLand, the company has to select a franchisee to build and operate it.

“Yes, we are actively seeking the right franchise owner for the DeLand area,” Linderman said in an emailed response to The Beacon. “We have several ideal candidate types we look for, including experienced investors looking for a multi-unit opportunity, investors looking to diversify their franchise portfolio or a single-unit investor who wants to break into the food service industry.”

Nor has a site been chosen for the restaurant.

“We look for a franchise owner first and then we assist them in identifying a qualified Huddle House location,” Linderman said. “If we happen to run across a physical location prior to having a franchise owner already on board, we would share it on the landing page as a pre-approved Huddle House location from a pure location standpoint.”

Once a franchisee is selected, he or she would typically be given 18 months to find a suitable location, get all the development approvals, build the new restaurant and undergo training. Construction alone generally takes about 20 weeks, Linderman said.

“If we had a franchise owner today for the market, the conservative bet for opening would be 2022,” he told The Beacon.

Huddle House, like most restaurants, has been hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.

“As Florida has eased restrictions, we have been able to safely and quickly reopen dining rooms to better serve our customers,” Linderman said in the release. “With most of our dining rooms now reopened under heightened health and safety guidelines, we feel now is the time to bring Huddle House to DeLand with the right local entrepreneur as a partner.”

To learn more about Huddle House, visit www.huddlehouse.com.

For more information on the Huddle House franchise opportunity, call 800-640-7125 or visit huddlehousefranchising.com.