Ker’s WingHouse Bar & Grill, a Largo, Florida–based sports themed wing and casual dining restaurant chain founded by NFL veteran Crawford Ker, announced today the launch of its national franchise program. Currently the chain operates 19 locations in Florida and Texas with plans to add six franchises by the end of 2008 and 48 by 2011. The company’s long-term goal is to expand the brand nationally to more than 250 units.

WingHouse’s franchise launch is part of an aggressive growth strategy, which includes expanding in existing markets while entering new cities throughout the country. It will initially focus its franchise efforts in the Southeastern U.S., specifically in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Since its inception in 1994, WingHouse’s mission has been to be “brilliant on the basics.” Its full liquor sports bar, chicken wings, and hot sauces served up by WingHouse girls translate into quick service and satisfied guests. WingHouse differs from other wing concepts because they emphasize fresh product over frozen. The classic American fare includes signature items like skinless naked wings and Dallas burgers. Sports memorabilia line the walls, with most locations offering a game room.

“After I completed my NFL career and moved back home to Florida, I went after my second passion, food, by opening my own restaurant,” says Crawford Ker, CEO and founder of Ker’s WingHouse Bar & Grill. “Over the last 14 years, one restaurant turned into 19 locations, and it is now our goal to leverage the company’s successful formula by launching an expansion plan that will enable us to continue our growth through franchising.”

WingHouse is an operations driven company and has created time tested policies and procedures to ensure controlled costs and a consistent WingHouse experience for its customers, regardless of geographic location. WingHouse plans to target a variety of experienced, multi-unit operators and well-financed investors who have $1.5 million net worth and $600,000 liquidity. The company offers two programs. Area development grants franchisees a territory on which to build and operate an agreed number of locations. In unit development, qualified owners will operate a single location.

WingHouse offers a franchise support program that draws from Ker’s football career. A “coach” who is an experienced franchise operations manager is available as a resource to help evaluate the efficiency of restaurant operation and provide the franchisee with feedback on how the store is performing. Franchisees and their managers also attend “training camp,” a comprehensive, nine-week program at a corporate training store, while corporate trainers provide on-site training to the new WingHouse employees. Franchisees will also receive marketing support via print, broadcast, web, outdoor, and local market promotions. They will also receive information technology services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.