The novel coronavirus has put a challenge of survival in front of the world. While all businesses are being challenged in ways we never knew possible, the hospitality industry is certainly one of the most challenged. With everyone staying inside, people preferring home-cooked food, and commercial places closed due to lockdown, first few months were a nightmare for the restaurants and eateries. However, it was also a time, to think, re-strategize, change priorities, and come up with a plan that could help both the businesses and the people.
When we are on the other side of this crisis and evaluations are made of which brands survived, which brands responded aggressively and creatively and which brands and leaders emerged to thrive, Huey Magoo’s Chicken Tenders is on track to be one such brand. All of its locations managed to stay open and have thrived with its successful family meal options, takeout and delivery programs. Looking at the situation, it also introduced curbside take out and online ordering and its overall fast-casual model has now positioned the brand favorably well for continued operations.
Huey Magoo’s was founded in Orlando, Florida in 2004 by tour golf professionals Matt (“Huey”) Armstrong and Thad (“Magoo”) Hudgens, two southern boys with a passion for quality chicken and a penchant for serving others. A culture of excellence in service and food quality began by serving only premium hand-breaded or grilled chicken tenders, always made fresh, all-natural, with no hormones, no steroids, no preservatives, and no antibiotics ever, dipped or “sauced” in uniquely flavorful signature sauces in a clean, family-friendly environment. Combined with farm-fresh salads, sandwiches, wraps, fries, hand-made chips, and Texas toast, Huey Magoo’s attracts a cult-like following of Millennials, families, and neighboring businesses desiring quality, delicious food at reasonable prices.
Even during the pandemic, sales levels for Huey Magoo’s have been strong, and in some cases, have exceeded pre-COVID weekly sales levels. Matt says, “We are very fortunate to report that Huey Magoo’s future, even in today’s unprecedented, challenging times, remains bright. COVID 19 challenges have not defined us though, and instead exposed the character and commitment of our franchise partners, the strength and dedication of our leadership team, and the love of our brand shown by our loyal guests.”
Here’s how Huey Maggo’s went from being Orlando favourite to America’s Favourite, straight from Matt and Thad.
How did the expansion begin?
Huey Magoo’s caught the eye of industry veteran and former Executive Vice President of Wingstop Andy Howard, who expanded Wingstrop from approximately 80 restaurants to over 600 in his 10+ years with the company. “Chicken expert” Howard acquired Huey Magoo’s in 2016 as President and CEO and brought with him fellow Wingstop all-stars, including Huey Magoo’s now Chief Operating Officer Mike Sutter, Director of Operations Matt Paleos, Chairman of the Board Wes Jablonski and Board of Directors Bill Knight. In just four years under Huey Magoo’s dynamic new leadership team and growing family of distinguished franchisees, Huey Magoo’s went from four restaurants located in Greater Orlando to rapidly expanding throughout the Southeast with now thirteen restaurants across Central Florida, in South Florida and in Greater Atlanta and 100 more franchisees sold, bringing many more Huey Magoo’s restaurants to the entire state of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina and more.
Brief us about your offerings.
Huey Magoo’s serves signature grilled, hand-breaded or “sauced” premium chicken tenders, farm fresh salads, sandwiches, and wraps. Each Huey Magoo’s tender is always made fresh, all natural, with no antibiotics ever, no hormones, no steroids, and no preservatives. Huey Magoo’s offers dine-in/out, take out, delivery through third-party delivery services, drive-thru and curbside pickup (at participating restaurants).
What are the key points that you consider while choosing or getting in talks with a new Franchisee?
Passion for the hospitality industry, a desire to serve guests and strong business acumen are ingredients for success. A realization of the fact that the boneless chicken category is THE place to be in foodservice… and a love of our product and brand certainly helps! A “working proprietor” mentality with proven ability to manage both at a unit and multi-unit level are essential. Development agreements are typically three units minimum and time-bound within reason, so financial ability must fit the plan. Overall, an enthusiastic chemistry among the prospect and our team must be present, as we are “Partners” for many years to come.
How do you train the new franchisee on-board and track their development?
Highly seasoned corporate trainers combine classroom, functional position, and management training for 17 days both in our training restaurant and then on-site during pre/post opening of their new location. Real estate site selection support is provided by a dedicated broker network with close review and approval by Huey Magoo’s corporate team. From “Day 1”, real estate, design/construction/operations support, and communication brings them to opening and continues over time as they grow into their territory development plan. Franchisee success and satisfaction levels are key to our relationship and their growth.
What factors differentiate the company from competitors and how do you ensure that these factors remain consistent throughout the chain?
Huey Magoo’s differentiates from competitors by serving 100% fresh, steroid/hormone/antibiotic free chicken and marinated 24 hours in Huey Magoo’s own recipe. Each tasty tender is served either handbreaded, or, another key point of difference, Huey Magoo’s healthy, delicious, and simply unmatchable grilled tender option. Huey Magoo’s highly seasoned corporate training, both at our corporate training store and on-site at each franchise location, ensure consistency in our high-quality product and exceptional service across the brand, which Huey Magoo’s prides itself in.
Brief us about your future perspectives.
Huey Magoo’s is rapidly expanding throughout the Southeast with thirteen restaurants currently across Central Florida, in South Florida and Greater Atlanta and 100 more franchisees sold, bringing many more Huey Magoo’s restaurants to the entire state of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina and more.
For franchising inquiries, contact Andy Howard at [email protected].
For more information on Huey Magoo’s, visit www.hueymagoos.com