Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux has its eyes on Wisconsin as a key market for the company's ongoing growth across the country.
The bar-restaurant chain says it's seeking franchise partners in the greater Milwaukee area, as well as in the Madison, Green Bay and Appleton areas. The plan is to open 10 to 12 restaurants in those markets over the next three to five years, according to Kelly Parker, director of franchise development and real estate at Walk-On’s.
Walk-On's currently has about 50 locations open and more than 150 in development, mostly in the southern region of the country. With plans to open 25 locations this year, the company is focused on markets in the Southeast and Midwest, including Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, according to a news release.
The company is expanding amid difficult times for the restaurant industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That's in part thanks to a growth equity investment made in October by private equity firm 10 Point Capital.
Also during the pandemic, Walk-On's suspended its royalty payments, so it could instead "pour those funds into homegrown efforts and support their team members," according to the release.
And it adapted business operations by launching curbside 'To-Geaux' service, online ordering, a mobile app, and third-party delivery partnerships, as well as new menu items.
"Our 2020 success was a collective effort of our determined leadership team and committed group of franchisees," said Brandon Landry, founder and chief executive officer of Walk-On's.
"By prioritizing the needs of our franchisees, team members and communities, we were able to successfully innovate, adapt and come out on top. 2021 will prove to be a fruitful year as we roll out new initiatives, achieve major company milestones and continue our strategic nationwide expansion," said Landry, who is a former walk-on basketball player at Louisiana State University.
Landry launched Walk-On's in 2003. It serves Louisiana-inspired fare, made from scratch daily, and claims to offer a family-friendly atmosphere, according to its website.