Continuing to defy an economic crisis that has dragged countless restaurant concepts into stagnation or even recession, East Coast Wings & Grill remains on a rapid path to growth.

Having recently completed its 35th consecutive quarter of same-store sales increases, the North Carolina–based chain has now been approved for a franchisee lending program created by Franchise America Finance and The Bancorp Bank, a subsidiary of The Bancorp Inc.

The $7.5 million facility provides start-up funding for franchisees entering the East Coast Wings & Grill system, as well as expansion funding for existing franchisees that are ready to expand their businesses.

This capital allows East Coast Wings & Grill franchisees to help stimulate the economy by creating new permanent and sustainable jobs.

“The successful completion of a financing program in this difficult market is a testament to the strength of our business model and an important step in the company’s continued growth,” says Sam Ballas, CEO of East Coast Wings & Grill. “This program—coupled with our laser-focused management team, strategic supplier alliances, loyal patrons, and strong unit economics—will undoubtedly allow us to further dominate our space in casual dining.”

By the end of this year, Ballas plans to expand 22-unit East Coast Wings & Grill beyond its home state, opening units in South Carolina and Texas.

He plans to open 12–15 stores annually for the next five years, dotting the Southeast with outlets offering East Coast Wings & Grill’s trademark buffalo wings, available in 75 flavors.

More recently, East Coast Wings & Grill broadened its menu with entrée salads, ribs, fajitas, burgers, and sandwiches to better compete with other casual-dining brands.

The check average is $17.20, and average unit volumes are about $1.4 million. 

“We are very excited to add East Coast Wings & Grill to our lending program as our first ‘emerging’ brand,” says Ronald Feldman, CEO of Franchise America Finance. “The unit-level economics and adoption of industry best practices by management helped us make our decision to offer franchisee financing." 

Created in 2010, the lending program is the first of its kind, providing a collaborative effort between lender and franchisor to set up a predictable model for franchise financing.

Specifically created for start-up and expanding franchise businesses, the program is limited to approximately 30 franchise systems with measured performance and experience within their operations. Funding is available for new and existing franchisees who meet predetermined standards set by The Bancorp Bank in collaboration with the franchisor.

“Our national program offers the smoothest, most time-sensitive loan approval process available today,” says Nancy Broudo, vice president of franchisee lending for The Bancorp Bank, noting that The Bancorp Bank has allocated more than $300 million for small business franchisees and licensees since the program’s inception.

“This access to capitalization will enable qualified franchisees to build their business, their industry, and an employment base to create jobs,” she says. “We are thrilled to have East Coast Wings & Grill as a member of our national lending program.” 

Feldman says Franchise America Finance is actively looking for brands with similar metrics and practices to expand its portfolio.

Finance, Industry News, NextGen Casual, East Coast Wings & Grill