Wayback Burgers is celebrating 30 years of serving up deliciousness throughout 2021. The famed burger joint is already posting record-setting numbers for 2021 after turning in impressive growth numbers during 2020, as a global pandemic ravaged the restaurant industry. Restaurant sales and franchise growth at Wayback Burgers are both up, standing in stark contrast to the restaurant industry as a whole.
According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurant sales fell by $240 billion in 2020, more than 110,000 establishments closed, and there were nearly 2.5 million fewer restaurant jobs by the end of the year.
In contrast, here are some key 2020/2021 growth metrics that show America’s favorite hometown burger joint is defying the pandemic odds:
- Wayback Burgers systemwide sales for 2020 were up 4.9 percent.
- Four restaurants topped $1 million in sales in 2020 (Hinesville, Georgia, Hilton Head, South Carolina, Eugene, Oregon, and Olive Branch, Mississippi).
- Seventeen restaurants are on track to hit $1 million in sales for 2021.
- A restaurant in Woodbury, Minnesota, had a nearly 70 percent increase in systemwide sales over 2019.
- Seventeen new franchises awarded since August 2020
- Four new restaurants opened in 2020
- Twenty-four new franchises are forecast to be awarded in 2021
- Ten additional franchises are forecast to be awarded to existing franchisees through a new expansion program — Let’s Get Growing!
- Franchisees are hiring additional staff in Q1 2021 to keep up with increased business.
- Wayback kicked off their yearlong 30th anniversary celebration with a 30 percent surge in systemwide sales in January 2021.
- Wayback’s growing footprint now includes 166 restaurants.
Wayback Burgers’ success not in just surviving but thriving during the pandemic is due, in part, to its ability to adopt and maximize changing trends in fast-casual dining in 2020. Quick ramping up of online ordering and delivery kept Wayback’s delicious handmade burgers and shakes easily and safely accessible throughout the pandemic.
However, upping the delivery and drive-thru game in 2020 wasn’t enough. Guests really began to miss and crave the guest experience as 2020 dragged on, and Wayback Burgers’ business model was prepared to meet that need, too.
In early 2020 – pre-pandemic — an updated design was offered as a renovation to existing restaurants. A new color scheme, new graphic design elements, exterior signage, and updated fixtures and ceiling tiles give the interiors a fresh, new look that elevates the feel of the restaurant to meet the superior quality of the burgers. Guests feel like they have had a great dining experience, and it translated into higher sales.
All of Wayback’s remodeled locations generated 39 percent or better sales numbers in the backend of 2020, over the previous year, and the East Windsor, Connecticut restaurant saw a 68.7 percent jump in sales — during a global pandemic!
“I think the remodel has had very a positive impact. Most importantly, it creates a better dining experience than before. We have multiple first-time guests coming in every day who tell us about the good things they have heard, in addition to our regulars who have noticed the difference. When you combine this new style with the substance of great food and service, everything works,” says Pat Patel, franchise owner in Wadsworth, Ohio.
In addition to its fresh, updated look, Wayback Burgers offers franchisees a slimmer retail footprint (1600–1800 square feet) and lower initial investment than its competitors, which is especially appealing to new owners looking to invest during a pandemic.
As an extra incentive to grow the franchise family, Wayback has launched a creative program called Let’s Get Growing! to help offset the cost for existing restaurant renovations. If any current owner signs on to build another restaurant, Wayback will use 100 percent of the reduced franchise fee to contribute to remodeling that owner’s existing restaurant(s). That way, more restaurants will experience the benefits of the updated design sooner.
“The investments and the updates absolutely contribute to a great guest experience and increased sales; the numbers bear that out. But even in the worst of the pandemic, we saw older locations trending upward, and that is due to our great franchisees and their teams who are offering amazing products, excellent guest service, smooth operations, and getting out there in their communities lending a hand during this crisis,” says Patrick Conlin, president of Wayback Burgers. “We owe a big thank you to our franchisees, employees, and especially our loyal guests who have proved that even during a devastating global pandemic, success is possible if you stay true to your core principles and keep offering the Wayback feel people crave.”