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Local Taco Bell franchisee acquired by California firm

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Southern Bells Inc., an Indianapolis-based franchisee that operates 76 regional fast-food restaurants, has been acquired by the country’s largest franchisee of Applebee’s restaurants.

San Francisco-based Apple American Group, which operates 438 Applebee’s in 23 states, acquired Southern Bells in a deal that closed in December but wasn’t announced until Tuesday.

Greg Flynn, the founder of Apple American, started a new company called Flynn Restaurant Group LLC that will oversee its old and new restaurant holdings under two divisions.

The Southern Bells restaurants, primarily Taco Bell and KFC franchises in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, will operate under one division called Bell American Group. The Apple American Group division will oversee the existing Applebee’s franchises.

Flynn declined to provide terms of the deal, but told trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News that the acquisition will bring about $97 million in revenue to the company, raising systemwide revenue to about $1.3 billion annually.

Southern Bells was co-founded by local businessman and philanthropist Charles Brown in 1982.

Brown, who will join Flynn Restaurant Group as president of Bell American Group, was featured in IBJ’s Leading Questions video series in 2011.
 

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