Restaurant Development & Design

July-August 2015

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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2 0 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 5 Peer to Peer Q&A with Karim Webb & Edward Barnett PCF Restaurant Management, Los Angeles F riends since grade school, Karim Webb, who grew up in a family of McDonald's franchisees, and Edward Barnett, a fnance- industry professional, joined forces in 2006 to become Buffalo Wild Wings franchisees. At the time, the concept had minimal presence in Southern California, but Webb had come across it elsewhere and got excited about bring- ing it to Los Angeles. The duo opened their frst restaurant in 2009 and have since taken over a formerly company- owned unit. They've also developed a third in a challenged inner-city South Los Angeles neighborhood long shunned by full-service chains. They've since become sales leaders in the BWW system and champions of change in the communities where they operate. rd+d: Karim, you come from a family of McDonald's franchisees. How was your experience different when you set out to establish your own business as a Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee? KW: McDonald's has its own real estate development department, so you get locations where leases have already been done or they purchase the land they know they're going to build on. You get to come in and make a few basic choices. But site selection, dealing with brokers, lease negotiations, managing contractors and change orders, value engineering, permitting – those things typically aren't part of your experience as a McDonald's franchisee. They're also not necessarily core competencies of most restaurant operators, so we've had to learn every step of the way. rd+d: What was the real estate situation like when you began to search for locations? EB: In 2008 everything had crashed and it was a renter's market. The bigger challenge was educating landlords about the brand and convincing them to go with us. At the time, BWW had very little presence in Southern California – just a couple of units – so unless they were national landlords, most weren't familiar with the brand. It has grown exponen- tially since then, but landlords at the time were looking for brands they knew and trusted. We had to caravan to a unit 50 miles east of L.A. so they could do a walk through and get a feel for it. rd+d: One of your sites, on Crenshaw Boulevard in Baldwin Hills, opened in 2011 in what has been one of the most troubled inner-city neighborhoods in Los Angeles, if not the country. What made you comfort- able developing there? KW: It does have a reputation for violence and crime, and that's a challenge. Today, within two square miles of that unit live some of the wealthiest African Americans and some of the most impoverished. Nonetheless, when people fnd out you're on Crenshaw in South L.A. they still have this image of the Rodney King riots, gang violence, racial tensions, etc. They don't feel safe or confdent that they're going to get quality food and service. But Ed and I both grew up in the area; we have family there and are very familiar with it. There's a level of comfort and pride that comes with operating there and a lot of opportunity to positively impact the com- munity. It's not like at our other, more suburban mall locations where there are Barnett (left) and Webb are Buffalo Wild Wings franchisees. Photos by Greg Shappell BY DANA TANYERI, Editor in Chief

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