With an impressive 43-year history of success in Florida, classic Southern BBQ chain – Woody’s Bar-B-Q – is making moves to expand its footprint within and beyond the Sunshine State’s borders. To lead that charge, Woody’s has hired seasoned franchise developer and founder of QSR Franchise Development Group, Steve Gardner, as its Director of Franchise Development. The recipient of a 2022 Franchise Broker Award from 1851 Franchise, Gardner has represented everything from an up-and-coming nutritional supplement brand to a century-old clam bar. In his new role with Woody’s Bar-B-Q, Gardner is planning steady, strategic growth of the brand to ensure a win-win for the franchise and its incoming franchisees. States included in the initial push are Florida, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi.

“There’s a real niche for the Woody’s Bar-B-Q product,” says Gardner. “Slow-smoked barbecue is a segment that is underserved in certain parts of the country. But before we make those introductions, we’re looking to solidify and expand brand recognition in the South in markets where barbecue is considered popular fare. Given the exceptional quality of its food, Woody’s can go toe-to-toe with any barbecue brand. Beyond its menu, I believe the Woody’s Bar-B-Q story, the longevity of the brand and the knowledge of its founders will really resonate with prospective franchisees and patrons alike – just as they did for me.”

Co-founded by Woody Mills and Yolanda Mills-Mawman, Woody’s Bar-B-Q debuted with one location in Jacksonville, Florida in 1980 before the company began franchising in 1989. Today, the majority of its franchise locations are all concentrated in Florida, with one franchise in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Three locations – including the original restaurant – are company-owned, and both Woody and Yolanda remain regular fixtures with local celebrity status at each. Many of the original recipes that launched the brand are still prominently featured on the current Woody’s menu.

To kick off the growth of the brand, Gardner and the Woody’s Bar-B-Q Corporate Office has teamed up with Lead Navigators to create and maintain a social media-based lead generation campaign. Gardner shared, “To find the right brand partners, we’ve raised the bar on qualifications – mainly seeking well-capitalized candidates with a wealth of restaurant experience. We are already witnessing a lot of viable interest in Florida, Texas and North Carolina, but have received inquiries as far away as Oklahoma. What really sets Woody’s apart is its immersive training program and close-knit family culture. When you become a Woody’s Bar-B-Q franchisee, you become a part of the family. That’s evident in the number of people who have worked or franchised with them forever. That family feel extends to Woody’s fanbase, further securing its place as a go-to destination for locals in the communities where its franchises are based.”

Prospective franchisees who wish to learn more about opening a Woody’s Bar-B-Q of their own are invited to start a dialogue with the brand’s new Director of Franchise Development. Steve Gardner can be reached at 201-873-2463 or steve@woodys.com. 

Franchising, Industry News, Woodys Bar-B-Q