East Coast Wings + Grill experienced record-breaking growth during the pandemic due to the company’s tactful and proactive COVID-19 contingency plan. In doing so, ECW+G significantly limited the financial impact for the franchisor and its franchisees and rebounded in just two-quarters time.

Predominantly based in the southeast region of the United States, ECW+G has seen a notable uptick in same-stores sales since June – positive momentum that continues to carry the franchise business into February 2021. In fact, 32 percent of the franchise system saw record-breaking months despite capacity limitations.

These promising returns are the result of a strategic on-ramping process, which began in February of last year for ECW+G, to best handle the repercussions of the pandemic.

The leadership team, led by CEO Sam Ballas, devoted a number of resources to maximizing operational efficiency at the unit-level to ensure franchisees remained as profitable as possible – even at 50 percent occupancy. Additionally, the franchise reassessed and optimized its supply chain and remained zoned in on making purposeful adjustments to positively drive unit-level data.

Because of its unique on-ramping efforts and response in 2020, ECW+G is experiencing strong performance:

  • January same-store sales are +13.9 percent year-over-year
  • 2020 check averages were up 14 percent year-over-year
  • 2020 average unit-level earnings were at 17.36 percent (EBIT)
  • Substantial side door and take out sales at a 94 percent increase

Altogether, these numbers validate the importance of and relationship ECW+G has with its franchisees.

“As a franchisor, our commitment is to the franchise owners and ensuring they have everything they need to run a profitable business,” says Ballas. “Franchisees trust you with their livelihood, and we understand that better than anyone. We deployed everything we could to help them weather this unprecedented storm – from updating operational processes to being even more visible as a franchisor resource and delivering practical solutions to sustain the positive guest experience we’re known for. We were able to move swiftly because of franchisees trust and they know our data-driven decisions are designed to enhance and guide in boosting potential earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT), no matter what they are up against.”

Due to the company’s stable performance even at 50 percent occupancy in all of ECW+G’s markets, ECW+G is now uniquely positioned to scale the super-regional brand to 50-60 operating units by year end 2022 with a handful of existing owners reinvesting to open additional units, and current new franchisee candidate activity.

“Our team has developed an ‘off-ramping’ plan months ago and part of this plan is to move back into a scaling mode again. We simply wanted to be prudent, we needed 2020 and a couple of months in 2021 to validate our strategy,” says Ballas.

ECW+G is targeting regional expansion in Southeast markets within North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.

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