As a small forward for the Orlando Magic, Quentin Richardson is best known for dribbling, passing, and shooting.
But the former first round draft pick also has a keen interest in business development and recently became a multi-unit franchisee for East Coast Wings & Grill, a North Carolina-based concept known for its 75 flavors of award-winning buffalo-style wings.
Together with JacksonBrown Hospitality Group, a Chicago-based company that recently helped develop and operate such properties as Michael Jordan’s Steak House, Richardson has committed to opening 10 East Coast Wings & Grill restaurants in Orlando over the next seven years. The first restaurant is expected to open in the first quarter of 2013.
“As many athletes move toward retirement, they have a great story to tell and great history, but they have a gap in their resume. A lot of them wonder what their second career is going to be,” says Sam Ballas, CEO of East Coast Wings & Grill. “Franchising is becoming a more popular way for sports stars to transition into life after their careers end, and we couldn’t be more excited that Quentin has agreed to make that transition with us.”
Richardson joins a growing number of athletes motivated by their professional leagues, teammates, and horror stories of evaporated earnings, who are examining life beyond sports with a critical eye. Among those who have turned to franchising are Shaquille O’Neal, Jamal Mashburn, Venus Williams, Keyshawn Johnson, Drew Brees, and Troy Aikman.
According to Richardson, franchising offers a unique opportunity for someone like him who can’t be involved in the day-to-day business operations, but knows what it takes to be part of a winning team.
“In professional sports, you always have a playbook or plan that needs to be executed to perfection. East Coast Wings & Grill provides that plan and the structure is already in place in terms of marketing and operations,” he says.
Proving the concept is successful in any economic climate with 35 consecutive quarters of same-store sales increases, East Coast Wings & Grill plans to open 10-15 restaurants annually for the next five years, dotting the Southeast with outlets offering its trademark buffalo wings. And while its 75 flavors of and 675 combinations of buffalo style wings remain a staple of the concept, East Coast Wings & Grill’s six-page menu also includes such casual dining fare as entrée salads, ribs, fajitas, burgers, and sandwiches.
“We had our eyes on a couple of different concepts in the chicken wing industry, but simply could not look past East Coast Wings & Grill,” says Keith Jackson, Principal of JacksonBrown Hospitality Group. “It was nearly impossible not to be impressed with the incredible amount of leadership and industry experts they have assembled, as well as the environment they’ve created that the whole family can enjoy. We look forward to being part of the team.”