East Coast Wings + Grill Making The Fast-Casual Transformation More Profitable
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East Coast Wings + Grill Making The Fast-Casual Transformation More Profitable

East Coast Wings + Grill Making The Fast-Casual Transformation More Profitable

Full-service, casual-dining juggernaut East Coast Wings + Grill has historically been characterized by its 60 different flavors of buffalo wings, fresh crafted burgers, and laser-like-focus on unit level economics.

Just check out these unit economics numbers from the past couple of years:

  • 2021 four locations broke the $3+mm revenue mark, one was $65k from $4mm. 
  • 2021 check averages were up 9.9 percent over the blended years of 2019-20. 
  • 2021 avg. unit gross rev. increased 18.1 percent over 2020 and 23.7 percent over blended 2019-20. 
  • Take out sales retained a 9.4 percent lift over blended 2019-20. 
  • 2021 average unit EBIT over blended 2019-20 was 14.8% with average unit Cost of Sales taking a manageable increase of 3.9 percent over 2020. 
  • 2020-2021 a new unit development casual dining box size was proofed at 2,290 sq. ft., delivering a $1.61mm gross rev. and 4.75-1 ratio of gross sales to development costs driving the brand in 2022 to a new box range of 2,400-2,800 sq. ft. delivering substantially less cost in unit development, while maximizing operation cost and earnings potential.

Solid numbers by anyone’s standards. Now the brand is focused on taking these already eye-popping economics to the next level with the creation of a fast-casual model that allows franchisees to reduce costs by operating in smaller spaces, including non-traditional locations, and with reduced staffing. The results so far are promising.

“This fast-casual model is designed with reduced overhead costs and maximum unit output in mind, while maintaining the brand’s high food quality standards,” said East Coast Wings + Grill founder and CEO Sam Ballas.

He has a pretty good track record of making successful tweaks to the model. The last reengineered model – dubbed ‘ECW 2.0’ – achieved a reduction of approximately 30 percent in development cost and 27 percent in square footage, while sustaining unit-level sales of the original, larger store layouts.

Ballas added that the development of the fast-casual model not only reduces start-up costs, occupancy costs, and staffing costs for franchisees, but is also a response to the growing third-party business that was spurred on by Covid. “The side door revenue opportunities are a significant part of our business now. Factor that in with this new fast-casual model and you have increased profit margins for franchisees,” said Ballas.

East Coast Wings already has a half-dozen new locations in the pipeline for 2022, the majority will be the new smaller footprint casual model. The brand currently has 34 units open nationwide with another couple of dozen in various stages of development; offering of the fast-casual model will begin mid-2022.

The brand is dominant in the southeast region of the United States, where it saw its stores perform well through the pandemic – positive momentum that carried the franchise model through 2021. In fact, 62 percent of its franchisees had a record-breaking year, measuring from a unit's inception and any unit's record prior 2021.

“As a CEO and founder, I had to look at the markets, restaurant space, and future development through a new lens. Adapting to the ‘new normal’ is making it much easier to see what we have to do to continue to grow both new markets and existing franchisee revenues. It will take smart growth, sticking to our core philosophy, and adjusting the view from our lens as we add new markets this year,” said Ballas.

To find out more information about franchising opportunities with East Coast Wings + Grill, visit www.eastcoastwingsfranchise.com, or call 336-760-4985.


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Published: February 15th, 2022

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