Foodservice Equipment & Supplies


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59 I n sports, the term "walk-on" refers to a college athlete who makes a team despite not having a scholar- ship. But now, for both sports fans and non-fans alike, that term refers to a fast-growing casual restaurant chain that's serving delicious Louisiana-style food in a fun environment. Beginnings In the late 1990s, Brandon Landry and Jack Warner were walk-ons on the Louisiana State University basketball team. The two became friends, and although they rarely got a lot of play- ing time on the court, they did get to travel widely with the team and experience dif- ferent cities and cuisines. Flying home from a road game at the University of Tennessee, the two friends came up with a restaurant concept, sketching out their ideas on the back of a cocktail napkin from the airplane. In 2003, their vision came to life as the first Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar opened near LSU's Tiger Stadium. Over the next nine years, more Walk-On's units were opened through- out the southern Louisiana area. The concept drew the attention of all-star New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who became a co-owner in 2015. That same year, Walk-On's started expanding through franchising. There are now 24 Walk-On's restaurants with plans for another 25 units by the end of 2019. The typical Walk-On's has around 250 seats, but especially in older prop- erties that are being converted, that number can vary significantly. The Three Cornerstones Walk-On's Director of Construction Eric Kindon credits the chain's success to three things which differentiate them from other sports bars. "When you think about our slogan, 'Game Day with a Taste of Louisiana,' it reflects three components: the food, the at- mosphere and the culture," he says. "We really push to hit on these 100 percent of the time. It's nonnegotiable." Unlike most sports bars, which focus primarily on their drinks and rowdy atmosphere, the menu takes center stage at Walk-On's. The food selections are based upon au- thentic Louisiana cuisine, and are all pre- pared from scratch. "We always give the utmost attention to ingredients, prepa- ration and presentation," Kindon says. Such specialties as Voodoo Shrimp (Gulf shrimp stuffed with cream cheese and jalapeños), Duck and Andouille Gumbo, Seafood Po' Boys, and Crawfish Étouffée harken back to the chain's origins, while WALK-ON'S: A CLASS ACT

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