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Tampa Bay Times: Longtime Checkers & Rally's Executive Spearheads Brand's Growth in Tampa Bay
Shaji Joseph formed a partnership to operate a series of the burger chain's franchises around Tampa Bay.

The long-time Checkers executive, Shaji Joseph, has formed a partnership that operates several burger chains around the Tampa Bay area. He currently is operating the day-to-day of seven local restaurants with two more on the way this year, and another in the next few years.

"I'm a very hands-on person," said Joseph, who started with Checkers 19 years ago as an assistant manager.

"It's like riding a bike," he said, "Once you learn it, you don't forget."

There are now more than 800 Checkers & Rally's locations nationally. About 300 of the locations are company-owned, with the rest being franchisee operated.

Joseph worked his way up the ranks to general manager, district manager, and franchise business consultant for the Northeast markets. He was eventually relocated to Tampa as company operations director.

Taking on two additional partners to form Wow Burgers, he made the jump from the corporate office to franchisee in 2015.

Several of Joseph's current franchises were those owned by previous franchisees that could not make them work. Robert Bhagwandat, director of franchise development with Checkers & Rally's explained how Joseph makes the old sites work.

"He's a great guy to work with," Bhagwandat said. "He's very level-headed; he can take constructive criticism. Shaji is one of those people, when he believes in something, he is extremely passionate about it."

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