Huddle House launched a drive-thru model of its concept, Souplantation unveiled an Express version of its buffet offering, and Denny’s rolled out a couple quick-serve versions of its popular diner. Now another brand has changed up its service style and opened an extension of its brand: East Coast Wings & Grill.
The first East Coast Wings & Grill On-the-Go prototype, a quick-service version of the casual-dining brand, opened January 31 in Greenville, North Carolina.
Sam Ballas, CEO of the Winston-Salem, North Carolina–based company, says the On-the-Go model was developed as another growth opportunity for existing franchisees.
“You own a East Coast Wings & Grill On-the-Go [quick-serve]-style product as a supplement of owning the mothership [casual-dining] store to be able to saturate out any other wing competition around you,” Ballas says, “and to capture that other revenue source, all those extra visits, where folks are tighter in their radius and don’t want to drive twice a week six miles away to eat.”
East Coast Wings & Grill, which has experienced 28 consecutive quarters of positive same-store sales growth and experienced a 15.3 percent same-store sales growth between January 2010 and January 2011, started developing the On-the-Go prototype three years ago, Ballas says.
The prototype features 1,400–1,800 square feet and 35–45 seats, compared with 4,300 square feet and an average of 135 seats in a casual-dining East Coast Wings & Grill. It has take-out service and 35 menu items, including wings, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and wraps.
Ballas says the On-the-Go prototype was modeled after other chicken-wing quick-serve concepts, but that he didn’t want to create too narrow of a menu focus.
“I wanted to not handcuff my franchisee area developers and my strategic partners out there with a wing [quick-serve] product that limits you to a half a dozen or a dozen items,” he says.
The On-the-Go prototype was designed to make $800,000–900,000 in annual sales, Ballas says, but in the two weeks it’s been open, the first store is 22 percent above projections.
Ballas says “a half dozen” On-the-Go prototypes are in the works, but that while he projects the casual-dining model to grow from 20 to 70–75 units in the next five years, the growth potential of the On-the-Go model is “unlimited.”
“It has the potential to be a mover and a shaker and head-turner,” he says. “We know we have the product, we know we have the quality, we’re just now getting this model into the right ears and eyes.”
By Sam Oches