WaBa Grill, one of the nation’s leading healthy rice bowl chains, reported that consistent sales and franchise growth fueled a successful 2022. Building upon record-setting results from the previous year, WaBa Grill experienced a 2.3% increase in 2022 same store sales (SSS) and a 3.8% increase in total system sales (TSS) over the prior year. 2022 also marked the continuation of an impressive 24-month run for the acclaimed brand, which has recorded two-year gains across the sales spectrum. SSS and TSS have increased by nearly 25% since 2020. WaBa Grill also reported that 2022 AUV for the brand’s top 25% of locations reached more than $1.3M, with the top 50% of locations achieving an AUV of more than $1.15M – another milestone for the popular brand well-known for its healthy and fresh menu served at super speed.
“I am deeply appreciative to work alongside such a talented and dedicated team of WaBa Grill employees and franchisees who helped to make 2022 another fantastic year, consistently pushing the brand forward and always ensuring we maintain our momentum,” says Andrew Kim, President & CEO of WaBa Grill. “As the healthy rice bowl sector continues to expand rapidly throughout the U.S., WaBa Grill is growing with it – and setting the pace throughout the West – as we continue to see more interest from new guests looking to experience the brand’s best-in-class menu and new franchisees seeking out WaBa Grill as a promising business opportunity.”
Franchise momentum and expansion clearly helped to fuel WaBa Grill’s impressive year in 2022. The brand opened four new locations and is expected to hit its 200-restaurant milestone in 2023. WaBa Grill inked 61 restaurant development deals in 2022, including several major multi-unit development agreements. A recently signed 2022 development deal to open 20 new restaurants will add to WaBa Grill’s growing presence throughout Northern California. Other major development deals signed in 2022 include a 10-unit deal for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, an eight-store deal to bring the concept to the greater Las Vegas area, a 13-store deal for Central California, and a 10-unit deal in Maricopa County, Arizona, substantially increasing the brand’s footprint in the Grand Canyon State. WaBa Grill also initiated significant remodeling activities in 2022 to refresh and modernize interior and exterior restaurant designs at many well-established WaBa Grill locations.
“As we excitedly work toward accomplishing our many 2023 development goals, including our 200-store milestone, we proudly celebrate the past year, which gave us so much great momentum to build on,” says Steven Wang, Director of Real Estate, Development and Construction at WaBa Grill. “We are pleased to be introducing WaBa Grill’s healthy rice bowl concept to numerous new markets in the next 12 months, and we feel tremendous gratitude to be partnered with many first-time and longtime franchisees who share our vision for the brand.”
In addition to sales growth and franchise development, WaBa Grill’s successful year was marked by many new brand initiatives. Debuting in early 2022, WaBa Grill’s Text Club directly engages with a new host of WaBa fans who prefer to receive news and offers via text. WaBa also onboarded Caviar as a third-party delivery service partner to further expand the brand’s digital reach for new and existing customers. Digital sales, which include online orders, third-party delivery and the WaBa Rewards App, continued to steadily rise and currently represent more than 25% of total sales. The brand’s product development team also restructured in 2022 to create new menu innovations that will directly impact restaurant menus in 2023. WaBa Grill also began working on a test kitchen site that will become the main hub of short-term and rotating pilot tests.
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 healthy fast casual brand on the rise.