Ruby Tuesday has signed an agreement to open up to 200 Lime Fresh Mexican Grill locations. According to reports in the Miami Herald and the Knoxville News Sentinel, Maryville, Tenn.-based Ruby Tuesday's signed a licensing agreement last week with LFMG International LLC for the development rights to the South Florida-based fresh-Mex chain. Lime Fresh has six units open throughout South Florida with two more opening this month and another two set to open in early 2011.

Ruby Tuesday has up to 850 locations and executives from the chain are hoping this latest deal gives them a solid entrance into the fast casual segment.

From the Knoxville New Sentinel:

"It's a segment that has sustained growth over the last several years, even during recent economic times. There's more demand than supply. This brand has a lot of opportunity within the category," Ruby Tuesday spokesman Rick Johnson said. ...

"They've been very popular and have done very well," Johnson said. "It's a good fit for us. Like Ruby Tuesday, the brand is focused on using fresh, high quality ingredients and has high standards for food and service."

Ruby Tuesday has plans to open an initial 12 Lime Fresh locations, with the first few expected to open in 2011. Meanwhile, Lime Fresh owner John Kunkel will retain ownership of the Lime Fresh brand.

Since the announcement yesterday, Ruby Tuesday's stock has remained flat. It closed Sept. 21 at $11.36 and opened this morning at $11.29.

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