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Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries is planning to expand its All-American, retro-themed diner to Montana, with a first location in Helena. The company has signed a master franchise agreement with Tim and Brenda Jittu, a entrepreneur husband-and-wife team with more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry.

The Jittu’s plan to bring at least five Hwy 55 locations to Montana over the next 10 years. Their first location is slated to open in early 2018 at 2530 N. Montana Avenue in Helena.

According to the Jittu’s, they were originally attracted to the Hwy 55 concept because of the family atmosphere of the company. They talked to many different franchisees before making their decision. Active in a church ministry, they were also attracted to the “Love Your Neighbor” culture of Hwy 55.

Once a well-kept secret in tiny but vibrant Mount Olive, North Carolina, Hwy 55 now operates 135 restaurants in 12 states and has sold the rights to more than 1,000 franchise locations around the world. Hwy 55 has also signed franchise area agreements for Iowa, West Virginia, Louisiana, Kentucky and southern Indiana and Virginia in the past year. The brand plans to open approximately 25 more locations in 2018.

Hwy 55 boasts a fresh, All-American diner experience with fresh, never-frozen burgers, premium sliced cheesesteaks piled high on steamed hoagies, and frozen custard made in-house every day. With its open-grill design, the kitchen’s dedication and care when hand-crafting meals is front and center.

“Hwy 55 is not a franchise concept, it’s a true American success story,” said Hwy 55 president and founder Kenney Moore, who recently published a book, Behind the Drive, which details his own journey from growing up poor to now owner and founder of America’s next great burger joint.

“All of our master franchisees also operate their own locations so they have skin in the game. It’s core to the brand and a highly effective business model that’s vital to the continued success of Hwy 55.”

Hwy 55 won BurgerBusiness.com’s “Best Burger” in 2012 and in 2014, Franchise Business Review named Hwy 55 one of the best restaurant franchises in the country.

The brand also was recently named a top 500 franchise in the United States by Entrepreneur magazine and a “Next 20” restaurant brand by Nation’s Restaurant News