Pilot Flying J reaches restaurant milestone

The largest travel center operator in North America is expanding its presence in the restaurant business.0306pilot.MP.jpg

Pilot Flying J recently opened its 300th company owned and operated restaurant and plans to open another 23 restaurants by the end of the year, the Knoxville-based company said Tuesday.

The 300th milestone was reached with the opening of a Huddle House at the company’s travel center in Anna, Texas, on June 11.

Pilot operates the largest travel center network in North America with more than 600 locations.

Pilot has steadily expanded its food-service operations in recent years by focusing on well-known restaurant brands. In 2011 Pilot ranked 65th on Nation’s Restaurant News Top 100 list of food-service chains and second in terms of fastest revenue growth. The rankings were based on Pilot’s $451 million in U.S. food and beverage revenue in the fiscal year ending December 2010.

Among the openings Pilot plans later this year are four new Moe’s Southwest Grill restaurants. Other Pilot restaurants include Arby’s, Chester’s Chicken, Dairy Queen, KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Subway, Taco Bell and Wendy’s.

“Pilot Flying J is a driver-driven company, and restaurants are a vital part of the service we provide to professional drivers and the motoring public,” Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam said in a news release.

Photo: Pilot Travel Center in Knoxville, Tenn. (News Sentinel archives)