(Ambrosio’s note: Hurricane Grill & Wings is an affordable, full service, family-friendly restaurant franchise specializing in wings — served with a choice of over 30 different sauces from Category 1 Mild & Sweet to Category 5 Ridiculously Hot. In addition to their namesake wings, they also serve proven favorites like steaks, seafood, burgers, tacos, quesadillas, sandwiches, salads, desserts and more.
Hurricane Grill & Wings first opened their doors for business in April 1995 at their first location in Ft. Pierce, FL. Since then, they’ve expanded throughout Florida, where most of their restaurants are currently located. They also have restaurants in Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New York.
Martin O’Dowd, President of Hurricane Grill & Wings, shares what makes their brand so special, and why their franchise is a good investment. Thank you, Martin, for taking the time to chat with us!)
Franchise Chatter (FC): Can you share with us your business background prior to joining Hurricane Grill & Wings?
Martin O’Dowd (MO): 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 Café, and before that, I was VP of Food and Beverage for Holiday Inn, and even before that, I was VP for Hard Rock Café.
FC: What made you decide to join Hurricane Grill & Wings as its President?
MO: Hurricane was a great next step for me because it is a growing brand and I believed in the principals of the company. And to be honest, the wings are absolutely delicious! I was sold at the first bite.
FC: Why should someone interested in owning his or her own business consider a full service restaurant franchise, particularly one that specializes in wings?
MO: Family-friendly, full service restaurants may have taken a bit of a beating lately; however, there is always a demand for delicious food. 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.
FC: What qualities are you looking for in a prospective franchisee?
MO: We look for potential franchisees that are not only business-minded and able to run a profitable business, but also have strong drive and are genuinely excited about the Hurricane brand and being part of the huge expansion we are going through.
MO: Hurricane does really well in almost every type of area — urban, suburban, free standing, in a shopping center, etc. Another really great thing is that Hurricane is just as accepted and successful in Florida as it is in New York, Arizona, Michigan and Indiana. We believe we have a very universal concept that appeals to a wide variety of people and excludes very few.
FC: Based on your observations, what concrete steps do your most successful franchisees take in order to build and grow their businesses?
MO: It is very important for franchisees to get involved in their communities. Their commitments to area little league teams, local charities and just being friendly with neighbours reflect upon the brand and directly influence the success of the business.
MO: The franchisees who are less willing to become an active participant in the community are the ones who usually see room for improvement and all the franchisees who have experienced this are typically the ones who are now most involved.
FC: What would you tell a prospective franchisee who wants to know about the profit potential of a Hurricane Grill & Wings franchise?
MO: Hurricane has one of the highest ROIs in the industry. A franchisee is able to invest about $550,000 and enjoy a 3-to-1 sales to investment ratio, on average. 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 to 70 and will always have an audience and potential for success.
FC: What is your strategy to grow the Hurricane Grill & Wings business over the next year and over the next five years?
MO: 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.