VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Papa Murphy's Take 'N' Bake Pizza has signed an area development agreement for the Atlanta market that includes opening 30 locations over the next six years, including three in 2005.

According to a news release, Atlanta is one of several new markets the 850-unit chain is focusing on. Others include Chicago, Louisville, Ky., Kansas City, Mo., Detroit, St. Louis, Indianapolis and Wichita, Kan.

"As Papa Murphy's has expanded eastward, the brand has been really well received in many of the region's markets," said Peter Fowler, vice president of business development. "This is encouraging us to grow at a faster pace, and we've been fortunate to recruit some very experienced and qualified multi-unit franchise owners who can start that off for us in Atlanta."

Papa Murphy's plans to open its first two locations in the Atlanta market before the end of the summer, inside Wal-Mart stores in Lawrenceville and Marietta, and a third is slated for the fall. Another three stores are planned for 2006, seven are scheduled each year in 2007, 2008 and 2009, and five are on the calendar for 2010.

"Papa Murphy's appealed to us because the concept is such a convenient meal alternative for busy families," said Jim Carter, chief executive of the investment group leading the Atlanta expansion effort. "Housing developments in the Atlanta market are moving further outside the perimeter of the city, and that means families are spending more time commuting and have less time to prepare a meal from scratch."

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