With more than 60 nationwide locations currently operating or in various stages of development, East Coast Wings + Grill recently secured a top spot on Restaurant Business Magazine’s “Future 50” list of fastest-growing, U.S. mid-sized restaurant chains for the second consecutive year. Thanks to its commitment to its customers, innovation, and its franchise owners–East Coast Wings proves to be a tasty investment.
Based in Winston-Salem North Carolina, East Coast Wings + Grill is a full-service, family dining restaurant known for serving up savory, spicy and delectable wings. With 60 different award-winning wing flavors and 7 heat indexes, guests can create over 420 combinations of Buffalo-style wings.
The franchise has 34 fully operating locations, plus dozens more in various states of development. Its strategy for success includes prioritizing owner satisfaction and encouraging franchisees to provide feedback via satisfaction surveys. Additionally, the corporate team provides ongoing support to franchisees–including reviewing the specific details of each location to help owners understand what’s driving sales and where they can improve operations.
According to a recent survey of actual East Coast Wings + Grill franchise owners:
- 100% agree that senior management encourages a strong team culture
- 100% of franchisees agree that the franchisor cares about their success
- 100% of franchisees are likely to recommend East Coast Wings + Grill to others
- 91% of franchisees rate the technology that the brand uses, such as its custom enterprise reporting system, to be above average
Serving Up Franchise Owner Satisfaction
For franchise owner Daryl Townsend, who had never run a full-service restaurant before, the guidance that East Coast Wings provided allowed him to become profitable quickly. This in turn created a favorable environment in which he could thrive and grow.
Although he had franchising experience in the food sector, having opened three Subway locations in less than 4 years, he learned about a new player in town in 2006 with a very different and enticing full-service business model. East Coast Wings + Grill, wasn’t just doubling its wings orders, but quadrupling them! The opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the growing franchise was too hot for Townsend to resist. He set up a meeting with executives to get the skinny on the company’s formula for success.
“I had a meeting with East Coast Wings + Grill founder Sam Ballas to feel out the brand–how they operated compared to Subway, what their royalties were, and what I could expect for margins,” Townsend said. “I bought my first franchise in Kernersville, North Carolina a week later.”
It wasn’t long before Townsend increased his “wingspan” and bought his second East Coast Wings franchise in Greensboro, NC just one year later. In 2010 and 2014, he expanded the size of each location by a third and added bars in each, which allowed him to serve craft beer alongside the restaurant’s popular wings. “[Before the expansion], I had people waiting, with wait times of up one-and-a-half hours,” he said.
Townsend attributes much of his success to East Coast Wings + Grill’s strategic approach to growth and the unwavering support of its restaurant owners.
“There are three equal parts to the sauce,” he said. “A great management team, having a great location, and being involved in the community.”
Carving its Own Restaurant Franchise Niche
East Coast Wings + Grill stands out from its competitors because it doesn’t try to be a sports bar, but instead appeals to families. While it’s known for its wings, the franchise also offers burgers, salads, wraps, and other items that appeal to a broad variety of tastes. “The restaurants spend less time televising games and more time ensuring the quality of the food,” Townsend said. The company also encourages community involvement to keep families coming back for more. For example, over the past decade, Townsend’s Kernersville location has hosted an Eating for Education program. One night a month, his restaurant donates 10% of its profits to a local school fund.
“These aren’t just our future customers, they are our future employees,” said Townsend.
On the business side, East Coast Wings leverages technology to help its owners take orders and receive payments on tablets as well as participate in third-party delivery services. The technology is also used to help owners look at their sales in real-time so they can make better purchasing and staffing decisions.
Each month, East Coast Wings + Grill franchise owners submit a detailed P&L for every restaurant they own. This doesn’t just help individual owners get the best bang for their buck but also helps the corporate office understand what the organization is spending on everything from wings to cleaning supplies.
This analytical approach is paying off. In 2021, East Coast Wings + Grill locations enjoyed a blended Net Operating Income (NOI) of 12.94% a decrease from the prior year due to supply chain encumbrances. The organization’s average unit value is more than $2 million.
The brand also achieved milestones in these areas, according to Restaurant News.
- Four locations broke the $3 million-plus revenue mark, one was just $65,000 from reaching $4 million.
- 2021 check averages were up 9.9% over the blended years of 2019-20.
- 2021 average unit gross revenue increased 18.1% over 2020, and 23.7% over blended 2019-20.
- Take-out sales retained a 9.4% lift over blended 2019-20.
Not only does the corporate office keep its finger on the pulse of franchise owner satisfaction, but it also stays abreast of market trends. The company recently opened 18 “2.0 Model” restaurants. Reducing the square footage of these restaurants by 30% enables owners to lower operating costs by another 30%. This new model allows franchisees to give their customers the same full-service restaurant experience while reducing the cost of their initial investment.
More About East Coast Wings + Grill Restaurant Franchise
East Coast Wings + Grill was named a top franchise in FBR’s 2022 Top 200 Franchise Buyer’s Guide. If you find food, hospitality, guest service, and giving back to your community enticing, East Coast Wings just might be the ideal flavor palate for you. As part of your due diligence, you should review your goals and investigate how your values align with each organization’s business model. Prioritizing franchises that consistently receive high satisfaction scores from their franchise owners. Also, be sure to speak with franchise owners about their day-to-day activities to help you envision yourself as an active and involved franchise owner. It’s also important to gain all the information you can when you narrow your search and are invited to a franchise’s Discovery Day.
If you are looking at restaurant franchise opportunities, it pays to focus on the data. This not only includes franchisee satisfaction ratings, but also the following key metrics on the company’s success.
East Coast Wings + Grill Company Data:
- Type: Full-service wing restaurant
- Number of franchises: 34; primarily found in the southeastern part of the United States
- Franchise fee: $40,000
- Initial investment: $427,968 – $981,275
- Cash Required: $200,000 liquid capital
- Net worth: $600,000 for one unit
- Royalties: 5%
- National ad fund: 2%
- Prior industry experience required: No
- How long it takes to open a franchise: 10-15 months
- 2.0 Model restaurants (18)
- AUV = $2,037,044
- Net Operating Income (NOI)– 12.94% (decrease due to supply chain challenges)
- Sales to Investment – 2.70:1
For more information on East Coast Wings + Grill franchise opportunities,
Call: (336) 760-4985
Visit: East Coast Wings + Grill