WaBa Grill, one of the nation’s leading healthy rice bowl chains, has announced that Q1 2022 same store sales (SSS) increased 9.5% over the same period last year, while total system sales (TSS) jumped 11.0% as the brand continues to make record-breaking gains across the sales spectrum. First quarter AUV grew by 10% year-over-year, and as the demand for healthy fast casual continues to rise, WaBa Grill – well-known for its healthy and fresh menu served at super speed – is exceeding guest expectations and establishing new benchmarks. Following a record-setting year in 2020 that saw WaBa Grill register the best sales performance in company history, the brand toppled the 2020 record last year – its 15th year in business. This year, as Q1 ended, 2022 is on track to establish a third-consecutive annual sales milestone for WaBa Grill, which shows no signs of slowing down.
“Looking back on our strong first quarter performance, WaBa Grill is continuing to meet a real need in today’s fast casual market by making fresh, healthy food accessible to all, and our unique ability to provide ‘healthy food fast’ is a testament to our dedicated franchise partners – our most passionate brand ambassadors – whose commitment to the guest experience is unmatched,” says Andrew Kim, President & CEO of WaBa Grill. “As the WaBa brand continues to grow and evolve, our success is being driven by a steadfast commitment to a bold and healthy menu, important technology investments and an operational system that delivers ongoing value to our guests.”
A variety of factors contributed to WaBa Grill’s Q1 success. Robust digital sales via online orders, third-party delivery and the WaBa Rewards App, which saw nearly 60,000 new downloads in Q1, continued to rise and currently represent nearly 25% of total sales. The newly launched WaBa Text Club, which debuted in January, engages with a new host of WaBa fans directly where they prefer to receive their news and offers. Q1 also was particularly successful for WaBa Grill in terms of its healthy, best-in-class menu. The brand’s wildly popular Plantspired™ Steak, a Korean-inspired plant-based alternative to steak, along with several seafood and vegetarian items, provided guests observing Lent with an array of meat replacements to choose from.
Inching closer to its 200-location milestone, in March WaBa Grill announced its plans to grow the brand’s California presence with an exciting 13-store development deal. The deal was inked by franchisees Harsimran “Sim” Nagra and Jerry Bajwa with the Bajwa Group of Companies, which now has exclusive territory rights to develop WaBa Grill locations north of Bakersfield through Fresno, introducing WaBa Grill to many new markets, including Visalia, Tulare and more. In recent years, Central California has transformed into a booming area with limitless opportunities for growth, and the brand is eager to introduce WaBa Grill to the greater Fresno area and confident that Central California locals will appreciate the access to delicious, high-quality, healthy options. The Bajwa Group currently owns and operates 19 other WaBa Grill locations throughout Southern California, including Calimesa, where WaBa Grill celebrated a Q1 milestone with the February opening of its 25th restaurant in Riverside County.
“The tremendous momentum WaBa Grill experienced in 2021 has catapulted us into 2022, and we are excited to be an attractive business opportunity for potential new restaurateurs who see tremendous value in meeting the growing demand among consumers for better-for-you dining options at grab-and-go speed,” says Vivian Mendoza, Director of Marketing at WaBa Grill. “As we continue to grow our footprint throughout the Southwest, it’s the consummate dedication and support of our valued franchise partners that is fueling our expansion efforts, and we look forward to accelerating our growth to new regions and into new communities.”
For more than 15 years, WaBa Grill has been serving its famous rice bowls, plates and salads made with fresh vegetables, healthy grains and high-quality proteins including fresh, never frozen chicken, marinated ribeye steak, wild-caught salmon, jumbo shrimp, plant-based steak, and organic tofu, all prepared to order on an open-fire grill and customized with a variety of flavorful sauces including the fan favorite WaBa Sauce. Along with takeout, guests may place orders on the WaBa Rewards App and online via the WaBa Grill website, in addition to any of WaBa’s third-party delivery partners.
The nearly 200-unit brand is primed to continue expansion having identified key markets throughout the western U.S. and is seeking franchise partners interested in expanding their portfolios with an established h