Casual Dining Restaurant Franchise Has Record Year with Pandemic Off-Ramping
East Coast Wings + Grill (ECW+G) – a full-service, casual-dining restaurant franchise – experienced record-breaking sales due to the company’s laser-like-focus on unit level economics and franchisee support. In doing so, ECW+G delivered a Unit Level Average EBIT of 13.7 percent.
Predominantly based in the southeast region of the United States, ECW+G has seen a notable uptick in same-stores sales through the Pandemic – positive momentum that carried the franchise model through 2021. In fact, 62 percent of the franchisees had a record-breaking year- measuring from a unit’s inception and any unit’s record prior 2021.
These promising returns are the result of a strategic off-ramping process, which began in late December 2020 into January 2021 for ECW+G, to best handle the repercussions of the pandemic.
The leadership team, led by CEO Sam G. Ballas, devoted a number of resources to maximizing operational efficiency at the unit-level to ensure franchisees remained as profitable as possible – even during the highest Cost of Sales the brand has seen in 10 years. Additionally, the franchise reassessed and optimized its supply chain moving to a weekly basis and remained zoned in on making purposeful adjustments to positively drive unit-level data.
Because of its unique off-ramping efforts in 2021, ECW+G is experienced strong performance:
- Four locations broke the $3+mm revenue mark, one was $65k from $4mm.
- 202l check averages were up 9.9 percent over the blended years of 2019-20.
- 2021 avg. unit gross rev. increased 18.1 percent over 2020 and 23.7 percent over blended 2019-20.
- Take out sales retained a 9.4 percent lift over blended 2019-20.
- Average unit Cost of Sales took an acceptable increase of 3.9 percent over 2020.
- New unit development box size was proofed at 2,200 sq. ft., delivering a $1.61mm gross rev. driving the brand in 2022 to a new box range of 2,400-2,800 sq. ft.
Altogether, these numbers validate the importance of driving unit level economics, being able to adapt and having a trusting relationship with franchisees.
“The culture of our brand is driving unit level numbers while coaching franchisees on the importance of every dime and nickel,” said Ballas. “2021 had false hopes. We hoped that the Pandemic would have off-ramped sooner, and that supply chain inflections were to be short lived. These hopes burst in early Q2 of 2021, as ECW + Grill was not immune to inflection. We had a couple of locations forced to go dark for relocating with circumstances uncontrollable by our franchisees, then faced construction supply chain issues. Having to RFP new food items as manufacturing became a daily inflection. We had to swiftly re-coach our franchise system of the importance in managing the middle of the P&L for assuring optimal bottom-line results. I am glad 2021 is in the books, and I am ecstatic how our franchisees and the brand’s support system performed.”
Due to the company’s 2021 performance, ECW + Grill has captured the attention of many candidates. From Q3 2021 to date, the brand added three new franchisees, one a multi-unit operator and poised to sign two additional franchisees in Q1 of 2022. ECW+G is now uniquely positioned to scale the super-regional brand to 50-60 operating units by year end 2024. “As a CEO and founder, I had to look at the markets, restaurant space and future development through a new lens. Adapting to the ‘new normal’ is making it much easier to see what we have to do to continue to grow both new markets and existing franchisee revenues. It will take smart growth, sticking to our core philosophy and adjusting the view from our lens as we add new markets this year,” said Ballas.
ECW+G is targeting regional expansion in Southeast markets within North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
East Coast Wings + Grill is a full-service, casual-dining franchise that spotlights Buffalo wings and fresh crafted burgers. The thoughtfully-crafted menu also offers a variety of other options to satisfy every family member’s taste buds. With more than 60-nationwide locations currently operating or in various stages of development, the franchise 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. Entrepreneur magazine also named East Coast Wings + Grill one of the nation’s top franchise investments, and Franchise Times magazine ranked the company No. 383 on its “Top 200+” list of top revenue-producing U.S. franchises. The concept has also been recognized by The Franchise Grade and Franchise Business Review for transparency during the franchise sales process, franchisee support and overall franchisee satisfaction. For more information about East Coast Wings + Grill or its franchise opportunities, visit www.eastcoastwings.com or www.eastcoastwingsfranchise.com.
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