Former Wingstop Execs Look to ‘Strike Gold’ With Huey Magoo’s
“I’ve always loved a great, great chicken tender,” Andy Howard told the audience at the Franchise Times Finance and Growth Conference, “and I was looking for my next life.”
The former executive vice president at Wingstop, who helped grow the chicken wing chain from 80 stores to more than 600 (today that number is 1,000-plus), found that next life with a little four-unit restaurant company in Orlando, Florida.
Along with fellow former Wingstop execs Michael Sutter, Wes Jablonski and Bill Knight, the quartet bought Huey Magoo’s Chicken Tenders in November 2016 because, as Howard said, “the sky’s the limit of what we can do with this little brand.”
Howard, now the CEO, said he’d like to see 25 locations open by 2020 through a combination of strip center restaurants and express units on college campuses, in airports and other non-traditional venues. Those restaurant footprints range in size from about 2,000 square feet to 500 square feet, allowing Huey Magoo’s to be flexible in its pursuit of real estate and explore partnerships with large foodservice operators such as Aramark, which just signed a deal to take over as the franchisee of the Huey Magoo’s at the University of Central Florida. “We’re thrilled” with that deal, Howard said, and with the potential for growth through Aramark.
That campus location is doing about $900,000 in sales, while the other three strip center locations have annual sales of more than $1.1 million.
Like Wingstop, the Huey Magoo’s model is meant to be simple, Howard said, and previous restaurant experience isn’t required of franchisees. At Huey Magoo’s, “all we do is chicken tenders,” said Howard. “Fresh, made to order, simple focus, only tenders. We do ‘em three ways: hand-breaded, grilled or sauced.”
Huey Magoo’s founders Matt Armstrong and Thad Hudgens retained an ownership interest in the company and will become multi-unit franchisees.
“Can we strike gold again like we did with Wingstop, I hope so, and I think we can,” said Howard.