Q&A: Martin O’Dowd, President, Hurricane Grill & Wings

Martin O'Dowd, President, Hurricane Grill & Wings

Hurricane Grill & Wings, whose trademark is “Live with Flavor”, is known for its uniquely savory, fresh jumbo chicken wings, offered with a choice of more than 30 signature sauces and flavors. Named by USA Today as one of “10 Great Places to Wing It,” Hurricane Grill & Wings’ menu items are cooked fresh to order with high quality ingredients and zero trans fats. Other menu options range from the world famous garlic & parmesan fries, salads to fresh, never frozen Certified Angus Steak Burgers and Grilled Mahi-Mahi along with a full bar and line-up of craft beers and wine.

The original Hurricane Grill & Wings opened in Fort Pierce, Fla., in 1995. There are over 50 locations in nine states, including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Texas, with additional restaurants planned nationwide.  For more information please visit www.HurricaneWings.com.

Martin O’Dowd, President of Hurricane Grill & Wings discussed the company’s rapid growth and what is in store for the brand in the future.

What have the last few years been like for Hurricane Grill & Wings? What does your five year plan look like?

When the company was acquired in 2008, the Annual Unit Volume (AUV) was $741,000 and in 2012, we ended the year with an AUV of $1.7 million. We have consistently increased our comp store sales by more than five percent each year and ended 2012 with more than eight percent comp store sales. Each year for four years, we have enjoyed over 32 percent enterprise growth. As of the end of Q1, we have 50 stores open and will have 66 open by the end of 2013. In 2014 we will add an additional 36 stores, pushing towards our goal of 100 stores by the end of 2014. We are expecting a total of 200 stores by the end of 2016.

You certainly have a tremendous amount of growth. Who is buying these franchises?

As Hurricane Grill & Wings is a young emerging company, we have a variety of ways to satisfy the franchise buyer. We continue to sell single unit stores, but in the last two years, the majority of our contracts have been with multi-unit franchisees who take on three to seven units with a reasonable development schedule. In four markets where our franchise partners are large groups who own hotels and other restaurant brands, the franchisees have taken on much larger development commitments that range up to 20 units. We currently have 243 units signed and committed for development. In the last two years, Hurricane has attracted franchisees who are currently in the business, but are seeking to attain an additional brand for expansion purposes. Our franchise partners are also involved in 18 other national brands, as well as Hurricane. For the area franchisee who has maximized use of his territory, Hurricane Grill & Wings can be a great addition to the skill set they already have in their organization.

What is the key to your growth?

We believe that the key to the growth of Hurricane Grill & Wings begins with exceptional franchise partners and, as with all restaurants, location, location, location!  We stand fast to our model, which is a three to one ratio on investment to sales, insuring profitable ventures. Upon finding a great franchise partner and location, we rely on the excellence of our food, the diversity of our over 30 sauces and rubs, always fresh jumbo wings and Angus burgers and a full palate of flavors to bring our guests back again and again. These three pillars for success are in turn supported by excellence in training, marketing and new menu innovation.

What kinds of resources do you offer franchisees?

Martin O'Dowd, President, Hurricane Grill & WingsHurricane Grill & Wings currently has three key partnerships to assist our franchisees. As of last October, we have $10 million in financing available to new and existing franchises from Mount Pleasant Capital. This financing program provides qualified franchisees with up to 75 percent of the funds necessary to open a new location. Another partnership is with Boefly, an online marketplace that gives current and potential franchisees access to a consortium of 22,000 banks that will bid for the business of franchisees. We have found it to be an extremely efficient resource, with a high level of success. Hurricane Grill & Wings is also an approved member of the United States Small Business Administration and our documents conform to meet all of their requirements. The SBA provides excellent resources for each of our franchisees.

For Hurricane Grill & Wings franchise information, please visit http://www.hurricanefranchising.com.

Martin O'Dowd, President, Hurricane Grill & Wings