McAllister is targeting the NASCAR circuit as the brand’s core market—Virginia down to Florida, Texas, and beyond. As time goes on, he can see the brand expanding westward, but in this fledgling stage, he wants to start where the “hubs” of racing fans are.
“We want to start around the Charlotte market and spread out from there,” McAllister says. “We’re going to be able to target anywhere in the Southeast in the next one to three years.”
The overarching goal is 100 locations in five years, and McAllister is confident this can be done through the conversion of struggling venues instead of ground-up infrastructure.
The Charlotte conversion only took a few weeks and was a quarter of typical building costs. McAllister said they were able to retain 90 percent of employees—which is priceless in a tight job market—and a vast majority of the previous establishment’s customer base.
While they are converting, the stores will remain open to retain the original staff and customer base. McAllister knows this is atypical, but it is saving operators time and money.
Michael Waltrip Taproom hopes to expand quickly, from intimate spaces to bigger venues ranging in size from 2,000 to 8,000 square feet. This flexibility offers the brand more room to grow.
“Our brand tag has a lot more opportunities,” McAllister says. “Mike has great beers and more importantly a lot of passion … the third element is to just go out there and execute.”
McAllister’s experience with franchising will help the brand reach its ideal mix of 10 percent company-owned and 90 percent franchisee stores. He believes the corporate locations will provide an understanding of strengths and pitfalls as time goes on.
His ideal franchisee would be someone who mirrors the Michael Waltrip image, with McAllister stating: “They need to reflect our passion, views, and goals. We want them to fit with our culture.”
Through the brand’s development, Waltrip is keen on staying true to his original motivators— having fun, drinking good beer, and making people smile.
“We’re just going to continue to enjoy the ride and see people drinking our beers,” Waltrip says. “Nothing feels better than seeing [people] you don’t know enjoy the beers and appreciate the quality of the product.”