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Spring chicken

Anchor Bar spreads its wings


Anchor Bar Franchise Co.
Franchise fee:
$20,000 to $49,500
Initial investment: $260,000 to $2.3 million, depending on store type
Royalty: 6 percent
Ad fund: No ad fund
HQ: Buffalo, N.Y.
The originator of the Buffalo chicken wing, Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar of Buffalo, N.Y., is hatching its first franchise in Charlotte, N.C. this November.

“No other wing specialty restaurant can compete with us as currently structured,” John Veyette, president of Anchor Bar Franchise Co., boasted. As replicas of the original, Anchor Bar franchises will be a chicken wing specialty restaurant, and standalone versions will feature a full bar and live music. Franchisees of the standalone versions will be required to host live shows every Friday and Saturday night.

Frank and Teressa Bellissimo opened the Anchor Bar in 1935 as a family restaurant serving American and Italian dishes. Buffalo wings were added and became an instant favorite in 1964. Today, the original Anchor Bar serves more than 1,000 pounds of chicken wings per day (four to seven wings per pound) and more than 36,000 pounds per month, according to Veyette.

In 2004, Ivano Tuscani, executive chef of the Anchor Bar, decided to franchise and partnered with Henry Weber, president of Re/Max of New York. Weber brought in Veyette, who has more than 25 years experience in franchising with Century 21 Real Estate, as a third partner and to recruit franchisees.

The first franchisee to enlist is Steve Carlson, president of Carlson Foods, a 26-year-old company that owns 18 Arby’s franchises. Carlson was looking to buy a casual-dining franchise and jumped at the opportunity to launch the originator of the Buffalo wing.

“Anchor Bar has so much more promise than anything else we looked at,” Carlson said. He plans to open 11 franchises in North Carolina and 21 in Florida, beginning in Orlando. He is the master franchisee for both states. Carlson’s first Anchor Bar franchise in Charlotte is a $3.5 million investment and will include a staff-, manager- and franchisee-training area in the back of the restaurant.

While some may wonder if there’s room for yet another chicken wing concept, Veyette admits this concern has crossed his mind, too. “We would have been better off starting (to franchise) 10 years ago,” he said, “before Buffalo Wild Wings, (T.G.I.) Friday’s and other casual-dining restaurants started serving chicken wings.”

But with about 15 billion wings sold in the U.S. foodservice industry in 2005, according to the National Chicken Council, it seems America’s appetite for the specialty could stand another contender. And who better to throw their hat into the ring than the Buffalo chicken wing founder?

Buffalo, N.Y.-based Anchor Bar, the creator of Buffalo chicken wings, started to franchise this year.

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