With two of its most successful franchises located in the small cities of Sebastian in Indian River County and Macclenny in Baker County, the management team of Florida-based Woody’s Bar-B-Q has developed a somewhat unconventional plan of attack to roll out Phase I of the national chain’s expansion in 2013. Armed with a target list of sixteen small towns in underserved counties of Florida and a newly refined quick service restaurant model, Tra Williams – the VP of franchise development for the authentic Southern barbecue company – has high hopes for the success of this initiative.
“Sebastian’s population is right around the top end of our small city definition and Macclenny’s citizenship is at the midpoint,” explains Williams. “We’re currently looking at towns that have as few as 10,000 year-round residents. A big reason the Woody’s concept has been so successful in ‘Hometown USA’ is that the authenticity and flavor of Woody’s smoked meats combined with ‘comfort food’ sides really resonate with the inhabitants of these municipalities. Since many of our recipes are based upon dog-eared secret family recipes, customers associate the taste with something from their own childhood. Add to that a comfortable atmosphere where neighbors can see and be seen, enjoy a sense of fellowship over a great meal – and we believe we’ve found a winning combination.”
Woody’s Bar-B-Q is currently seeking prospective franchisees in and around Citrus, Volusia, Lake, Suwannee, Gadsden, Jackson, Walton, Jefferson, Hardee, and Pascoe Counties. While the full-service restaurant model is readily available, Williams believes the newly released quick service restaurant model – aptly named Woody’s Bar-B-Q Express – will be the driving force behind the expansion.
“Start up costs for a 1,500 to 2,500 square foot Woody’s Bar-B-Q Express are lower than those of a traditional model – making the concept of opening a restaurant easily attainable for aspiring entrepreneurs in these towns and surrounding counties,” adds Williams. “Not to mention, these smaller restaurants also lend themselves to lower build-out costs, fewer employees, and tighter operations. With dedicated owner-operators at the helm – folks that everyone in town knows, loves, and wants to support – we believe they have the potential to be extremely profitable."
While Phase I of the hometown expansion focuses on small towns and cities in Florida, franchise sales are still available beyond the Sunshine State’s borders. New Woody’s Bar-B-Q restaurants are already slated to open in Georgia, Utah, Tennessee, and Michigan in 2013. Based on the success of the first leg of the expansion, Williams predicts that they will soon begin scouring small towns nationwide for the ideal pairing of location and franchisee at the launch of Phase II.
“We welcome input from barbecue lovers everywhere who want us to consider their hometown for the future site of a Woody’s franchise,” says Williams. “Ideally, the entire population of these small towns will be eagerly awaiting the arrival of a Woody’s Bar-B-Q near them – signaling its future success before we even cut the ribbon at the Grand Opening.”
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