Restaurant chains turn to foreign investors to expand

Looking for cash to expand, restaurant chains in South Florida are turning to foreign investors who want to call the United States home.

The New Miami Subs Grill and local franchise holders for Voodoo BBQ are among a growing list of chains tapping a U.S. visa program that lets qualified foreigners obtain U.S. residency with their families when they pump at least $500,000 into a U.S. firm and create at least 10 jobs, lawyers said.

Sonic Hamburgers was one of the first chains in South Florida to capitalize on the so-called EB-5 visa program that offers employment-based visas to qualified foreigners, their spouses and children under 21. It began luring EB-5 investors to the area about two years ago, said attorney Fred Burgess, a principal with Exclusive Visas of Weston, a consulting firm that specializes in EB-5 programs.

Among the latest chains to join the EB-5 push: the South Florida franchise holder for Twin Peaks, a sports bar and grill that will compete with such chains as Hooters, Burgess said.

Continue reading . . .