Salt Lake-based JB's Restaurants Inc., operator of 133 JB's family-style restaurants and franchises, has signed an agreement in principle to become a franchisee of restaurant chain Sbarro Inc. in Italian-style restaurants.

Under the agreement, JB's will acquire two operating Sbarro restaurants in Phoenix and exclusive development rights to Phoenix and Portland, Ore., over the next three years. The company said it plans to open a minimum of 19 additional Sbarro restaurants in these two areas and others "where appropriate."Commenting on the agreement, Fred P. Gonzales, president and chief operating officer, stated, "The Sbarro concept, which fills a unique niche in the growing Italian segment, is one of the most profitable and consistent performers in the restaurant industry." "The franchise agreement provides JB's with a high margin growth concept which improves JB's overall shareholder returns."

Most of the Sbarro restaurants are located in regional shopping malls.