Walk-On’s was started by Brandon Landry and Jack Warner, two walk-ons for LSU’s basketball team. During a plane ride home from Tennessee, the pair sketched a floor plan for the concept on the back of a napkin. They submitted the business plan to a professor and received a C in response. Six banks denied them a loan. When the seventh agreed, Landry and Warner brought Walk-On’s to life. Warner has since moved on to other ventures after selling his stake.
Naturally, much has changed over the years, but that blue-collar spirit has remained in tact. It’s what’s driving Walk-On’s growth and dedication to constant betterment, Taylor says.
In 2012, ESPN named Walk-On’s “The Best Sports Bar in America” on the heels of a banner year in Louisiana. The New Orleans Saints made the playoffs. The BCS Championship featured Alabama and LSU in an all-SEC blockbuster.
“It definitely put us on the map in New Orleans,” Taylor says, who came to the company in 2010. When Taylor first arrived, Walk-On’s had two units and wouldn’t kick up the franchising topic for another couple of years. In fact, they originally considered franchising the company’s pizza concept but changed course when ESPN’s award turned on the spotlight.
Inquiries started filing in from around the country. “People wanted to know more about it,” Taylor says. “They were asking, ‘How can I open one of these in my neighborhood?’ So at that point we thought about it and looked at the possibilities.”
Before Walk-On’s official launch, the brand fielded an intriguing call. Drew Brees, the 10-time Pro Bowl quarterback of the Saints, was a regular sight at the restaurant. He would often take his offensive line to dinner and host private events from time to time. One day, his agent phoned Walk-On’s corporate office and asked to speak to Landry.