Industry Vets Come Together to Grow Wild Wing Café
Wild Wing Café, the brand that lives by the motto “Where Great Food Rocks,” announced an aggressive franchising strategy. Details on the planned growth come after 18 months of strategic preparation for this moment.
“The time is now for Wild Wing Café. We are in prime position to expand with seasoned restaurant owner/operator groups, who want to incorporate a winning concept into their portfolios,” says Bill Prather, who served as CEO of Hardee’s and in executive roles with Burger King prior to being named CEO at Wild Wing Café last year.
“Wild Wing Café already has tremendous loyalty from its raving fans,” he adds. “Now, the pieces are in place to bring the one and only Wild Wing Café experience to even more neighborhoods.”
Best known for blending its menu with music entertainment in neighborhood hangouts throughout the Southeastern United States, Wild Wing Café’s franchise plans include adding nearly 70 new restaurants during the next five years.
The company projects reaching 100 units by 2018, with a focus on opening in select U.S. markets adjacent to current southeastern U.S. operations.
The growth strategy has the full support of Axum Capital Partners (Axum) and its leadership team, which, among others, includes former NFL star Mushin Muhammad and Edna Morris, a 30-year restaurant industry veteran who held top posts at Red Lobster and Quincy’s Family Steakhouse.
Axum acquired Wild Wing Café in early 2012, quickly naming Prather CEO and assembling the group that now surrounds him at the brand’s home office.
“Wild Wing Café hits on the points that mean most to restaurateurs,” says David Leonardo, chief development officer for Wild Wing Café and a former development executive at Wendy’s, Arby’s, and Burger King.
“Our food and drinks surpass others in our segment, we have a proven brand with more than 20 years of building a phenomenal fan base, the environment is unlike any other, and, most importantly, the performance of our restaurants has been exceptional,” he continues.
These unique differentiators are combined with attractive operational highlights, including consistent customer flow throughout the day, beginning with lunch, continuing through dinner, and late into the evening, when the bar and music scene kick into high gear.
Wild Wing Café’s average unit volume at franchise restaurants is $2.8 million, with a $2 million ground-up build out (conversion of an existing structure is $1.3 million and conversion of a restaurant is $500,000–$1 million), creating a solid sales-to-investment ratio.
“The brand began from humble beginnings and remained low key for a long time. We cherish our history, and that can be seen in our laid-back environment and on our menu, the vast majority of which comes from our founder’s kitchen,” Prather say.
“But there’s no denying that Wild Wing Café has earned the respect and attention of serious players in the restaurant industry who want be part building something special with us,” he adds. “The brand’s performance speaks for itself. We’ll grow our unit count by nearly 15 percent in 2013, and 2014 stands to be an even larger growth phase.”
Five new units are slated to open in the second half of 2013 in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Additionally, Wild Wing Café is nearly finished completing a new restaurant prototype, which will serve as the model for all future locations.
“As we grow and evolve, the vibe and food quality will never change,” Leonardo says. “The feeling you get when you walk through the door of a Wild Wing Café is unmistakable and we will not let that get away from us.”