Applebees restaurant

National brands such as Applebee's have long track records, thriving in good times and surviving recessions.

Franchisee growth continues unabated

Aided by cheap debt and refranchising, large operators continue to expand

With an unprecedented amount of financing available and a whole lot of restaurants up for sale, restaurant franchisees are finding a market in which they can quickly build large organizations, sometimes from the ground up.

Take, Tom Garrett, who resigned as CEO of Arby’s in 2010. He re-emerged on the restaurant scene two years later — as a franchisee of Burger King.

Garrett founded GPS Hospitality Inc., starting with the acquisition of 42 Burger King locati

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