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Wayback Burgers serves a meal that’s very American, but many of its most passionate fans and supporters dine around the world.
Wayback Burgers has 166 locations around the world, primarily in the United States of America, but in recent years, the company has been particularly excited about its international growth.
“We didn’t go seeking to locate Wayback Burgers in other countries. They came to us,” says Bill Chemero, chief development officer of Wayback Burgers. “We started getting calls, and people would ask, ‘Are you looking for a master franchisee? Are you international?’ That’s how it all started.”
But things have come full circle, since now Chemero is actively looking for master franchisees and area developers.
Wayback’s international expansion
Wayback Burgers, which is currently in 30 of the 50 states in America, started its global expansion first by setting up a restaurant in the Middle East and then made its way into Asia, Europe, South America, and Canada.
“You would have thought we’d go into Canada after the United States,” Chemero says. But Wayback Burgers has been hopscotching across the planet because, well, if a master franchisee or area developer wants to open up restaurants in Pakistan, Chemero feels that it makes no sense to say: “No, we have this plan where first, we want to open a Wayback Burgers in London. Then Paris. Then Hong Kong. Then…”
Chemero says that the Wayback Burgers team is happy to go where the master franchisee or area developer’s interest is, provided the demographics look solid. So, while Wayback Burgers is not yet in England, for instance, it will be in Ireland before the year is up, and who knows? Perhaps that will lead to an inquiry from a potential master franchisee or area developer about opening locations in England or France.
Meanwhile, Wayback Burgers is in the midst of final discussions with a potential master franchisee to get its first restaurants opened in Germany. The brand is also present in The Netherlands.
There are a lot of things happening with the brand internationally. Wayback Burgers has two locations in Malaysia, with a third being constructed. There are two Wayback Burgers in Brunei with more to come.
Bangladesh doesn’t have a Wayback Burgers yet but will have two locations up and running in the country before the end of the year. The brand also has a presence in Argentina, Kuwait, Morocco, Sudan and Saudi Arabia, where there are two locations – and a food truck.
As for Canada, Wayback Burgers is now in five of the ten provinces. It’s all about finding master franchisees and area developers who are experienced business owners and have an interest in owning and running multiple family-friendly, fast-casual American burger establishments, Chemero says.
It’s a brand that has become beloved, the bigger the brand becomes. That sounds like hype, but if you walk into a Wayback Burgers during the lunch and dinner hours, you’ll see – the place is packed.
Wayback: then and now
The restaurant’s name, Wayback Burgers, refers to a bygone era, way back in time, when people cared deeply about the taste of food that they made.
The restaurant was founded in 1991. It started – and has continued – with the premise that the business should specialize in one thing – the burger experience. They serve other items, such as chicken sandwiches, and while being unapologetically old-fashioned (the burgers are thick and juicy; the milkshakes are hand-dipped), the brand is also very much looking toward the future. It has enthusiastically climbed onto the plant-based burger trend, offering its Impossible Melt, a burger melt.
The company also has a history of embracing technology, quickly offering online orders when it became apparent that that was becoming a thing. It has for some time now had a Wayback Burgers app. Its food trucks are environmentally friendly: electric.
The company has been renovating its look lately, too, changing its color scheme, replacing the red on the walls with a “Sealskin” grey color, while the upper are tinted with a “Mindful Grey” tone. The ceiling tiles are also being replaced, going from an off-white to black tiles and a black ceiling grid.
Other new design elements include graphic items and framed wall posters, such as a Wayback Clock and a decorative American flag made from Delaware license plates, the state where Wayback Burgers was founded.
“I’m sure it’s hard to visualize, but I promise you, the new look is fantastic,” Chemero says. “We’ve had a lot of compliments from our guests and the franchisees. And the older franchises that have retrofitted their restaurants to the new look have seen an increase in sales.”
While Wayback Burgers has been around for almost 30 years, it has only been franchising since 2008 when John Eucalitto, CEO, and Chemero joined the company. Back then, there were 10 Wayback Burgers in the United States.
In the United States, the initial franchise fee for the first franchise is $35,000. The estimated initial investment for a typical Wayback Burgers restaurant in the United States will be between $350,000 and $450,000.
Internationally, the investment for a master franchisee or area developer can vary, depending on a variety of factors, including the size of the country.
Calling all master franchisees or area developers
Chemero is looking for master franchisees and area developers to be experienced business owners who know what they’re doing, but at the same, he says that Wayback Burgers will work closely with them. Chemero says that once Wayback partners with a master franchisees or area developer, the burger brand provides a comprehensive training process, support and backup.
“We help them find vendors for the products and the equipment, for the POS systems. We train them on where the good locations are for a Wayback restaurant. That’s harder than it sounds, as anyone who has had a franchise knows. Real estate can be overwhelming if you don’t have that support,” Chemero says.
He says that they have a dedicated international staff at Wayback’s corporate headquarters in Connecticut, and they’re there to support the growth of master franchisees and area developers.
Wayback Burgers will also help master franchisees and area developers design an initial marketing plan.
In other words, Wayback Burgers strikes that delicate balance of not micromanaging – but also of not letting business owners fend for themselves and having to guess at everything and hope for the best.
Chemero seems to have world domination on his mind when asked about where he wants to see Wayback Burgers located. He says that he is keenly interested in seeing growth in Europe, Asia, Australia, Central America and South America, particularly Argentina. He also is, of course, working on getting Wayback Burgers in all 50 states. So, yes, if it sounds like Wayback Burgers is interested in being, well, everywhere, that would be right.
And if its chief development officer has anything to say about it, you’ll go a long way with Wayback.
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