Hurricane Grill and Wings - Franchise Q & A

Martin Dowd President Hurricane Grill Wings Discusses Franchise

How was Hurricane Grill & Wings originally started?

The entire idea of Hurricane Grill & Wings started with Chris Russo.  As a young man, Chris lived in Fort Pierce, FL had a passion for flavors.  His mother taught his how to cook and he turned his love for food and flavor into a small restaurant. He rented a small 1,400 square foot space to create "Chris' Wings" as a restaurant to sell two things he loved: wings and beer. The restaurant was right on the water and began to attract people locally.  Eventually, people began flocking to the restaurant because of the delicious wings and the unique sauces.  People kept asking Chris to open more locations and this eventually led to informal franchising and Chris letting people buy his sauces.  After a period of organic growth, the people at Dunkin Donuts saw the potential and bought the rights. To this day, out of the 32 sauces on our menu, 25 are the original sauces from Chris in 1995.

What was the original vision for Hurricane Grill & Wings? How has that changed over time?

While there are a lot more Hurricane Grill & Wings than there were Chris' Wings, the main goal is the same- simplicity. Our food is deliciously simple from conception to execution. Hurricane Grill & Wings aims to provide amazingly, flavorful food.

What do you believe is the single most important factor when choosing a franchise?

I believe the most important thing for a potentialfranchisee to decide, is if they believe the brand, the company, the team members and the ethos of the company is a good fit for them. Investing yourself in a company is a huge step and unless you can get behind the brand 100%, then you should reconsider your decision.

Why should someone choose Hurricane Grill & Wings over other similar franchises?

There are four principle reasons:

1. Return on Investment- the ROI for Hurricane Grill & Wings is in the top 10% of the industry. Also Hurricane Grill & Wings was named in the top 50 fastest growing companies in the industry for the past 3 years.

2. Simplicity- From an operator's position, simplicity is the basis for everything we do- from the simplicity of creating menu items, to the simplicity of making the 52 menu items and simply having the best food.

3. Quality- Hurricane Grill & Wings puts such a priority of high quality of food from our fresh jumbo wings, 100% Certified Angus Burgers and fresh produce for salads and sides.

4. Most importantly, flavor- our 32 flavors that make the possibilities of flavor endless for every meal allowing the customer to take a flavor vacation each time they eat at Hurricane Grill & Wings.

What makes your industry attractive?

Family-friendly, full service restaurants may have taken a bit of a beating lately; however, Hurricane Grill & Wings in particular is so focused on providing quality food at an affordable price. We pride ourselves on the fact that our average bill is $12.70 and that will give you a full stomach and satisfied taste buds.

What types of qualities do you look for in potential franchisees? 

We look for potential franchisees that are not only business-minded and able to run a profitable business, but have a strong drive and are excited about the Hurricane brand and being part of the expansion we are going through.

How do territories work for Hurricane Grill & Wings franchisees?

Franchisees are granted a limited protected territory, exclusive of non-traditional outlets (such as casinos, airports, etc.), for the term of the development agreement that will be delineated by streets, highways, zip codes, counties or natural or political boundaries that represent the selected location's primary trade area.

Why has the Hurricane Grill & Wings franchise model been successful?

We believe our franchise opportunity is unique that we focus on return on investment for franchisees.  They are able to invest about $550,000 and get a 3 to 1sales to investment ratio. The investment in a Hurricane Grill & Wings franchise is attractive because it is a full service, family oriented restaurant that appeals to anyone ages 7-70. The brand is just as accepted in Arizona, Michigan and Indiana as it was originally and still is in Florida. At Hurricane Grill & Wings, we focus on simplicity- 3 pieces of cooking equipment in the kitchen and a 3 step process of food preparation to ensure that it is functional across a large base of restaurants.

Where do you see the Hurricane Grill & Wing franchise in 5 years and 10 years?

By 2013, we expect to have 100 restaurants opened, which will be a huge milestone for the brand.  After that, we have signed agreements for 233 new locations in 15 new states which would make Hurricane Grill & Wings truly a national brand.

What is your favorite advice for new franchisees to help them succeed?

Make sure you taste the food even before you become an actual franchisee.  We want people who are just as passionate about the brand as we are and you can't be passionate if you don't like the food (which we're sure most everyone likes our food).

What would you tell potential franchisees that may be nervous about the financial burdens of starting a franchise?

I tell potential franchisees all the time that we have one of the lowest cost full service brands with one of the highest rates of return on investment.

On average, how long does it take to start a new Hurricane Grill & Wings franchise from the franchisees point of view?

Ninety to 180 days from signing to opening the doors of your first restaurant.

What was your background and experience before founding this franchise?

Before coming to Hurricane Grill & Wings, I was President of Famous Dave's BBQ where I started the true expansion of the franchising division. Previously, I was president of Rainforest Cafe©, and before that, I was VP of Food and Beverage for Holiday Inn and even before that, I was VP for Hard Rock Cafe©. 

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