The Piper-backed company will look for new opportunities on both sides of the Pennines, as well as look to increase its presence in the Midlands.
The 11-strong brand, which will open its next site in Wilmslow in Spring, has had particular success transforming former pubs.
It works with partners on existing sites, both leasehold and freehold, and will open its first new-build, in Staffordshire, later this year.
“We’re pleased to have secured this deal with ThinCats as we step up our roll out plans and continue looking for potential new restaurants. We’ve broadened our target area and are keen to find sites on either side of the Pennines and increase our presence in the Midlands," says Hickory’s managing director John Welsh.
"Nothing is off limits – we’ve had particular success in converting old pub sites and are excited about our first new-build later this year. We look forward to bringing our own style of Southern hospitality to new communities in the coming years.”
Speaking to Restaurant magazine last year, Welsh said that the company has an opening rate of around three restaurants a year but that it could start moving it to four a year. "We have always been very considered in our growth – some people might say we have been slow, but I’d like to think we get it right each time, which means more to us than growing quickly.”
The first Hickory’s Smokehouse opened in Chester in 2010 following founder Neil McDonnell’s extensive research into the American BBQ and smokehouse sector. The team behind Hickory’s has been operating in Chester for 20 years with Barlounge and its award-winning steakhouse Upstairs At The Grill.