Walk-On's

Hardhats rest on shovels before the groundbreaking ceremony for a new Walk-On's location at Legends Crossing.

Staff photo — Jerry Larson

Johnny Qubty, from Lubbock, visited Legends Crossing for the first time Wednesday to see the site of a new Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar he hopes to build and open there by mid-May.

“I’d viewed photographs of the place but had never actually seen it,” Qubty said.

Qubty, a retired physician, has partnered with Joshua Allen to franchise several Walk-On’s locations in Texas, including Waco’s.

“I was stunned at the beauty of the area, the small lake, the hotels in the background,” Qubty said by phone after the visit. “I thought, ‘This is where we belong.’ ”

He also took part in a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for the 8,500-square-foot family friendly sports bar that will serve dishes including Boom Boom Shrimp, Catfish Atchafalaya, Ribeye Poboy, Zydeco Salads, Crawfish BLT and Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding, according to a menu restaurant representatives provided.

Qubty said the restaurant will seat up to 235, more than the Walk-On’s he opened in Lubbock, because he plans patio seating on the lake.

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Walk-On's

Triliji Group officials Lisa Monroe (from left) and Jimmy Banks, Walk-On’s co-founder Brandon Landry, franchisee Johnny Qubty, Walk-On’s regional director Fred Martinez and a construction official involved in the project pose during a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for the new Walk-On’s location at Legends Crossing.

Brandon Landry, co-founder of the chain named for his and his partners’ “walk-on” experience with the Louisiana State University basketball team, attended the ceremonies and lauded the franchise Qubty has formed.

“Their first year in Lubbock, they grossed $6.5 million, making them one of the highest-grossing restaurants in the system,” Landry said.

The Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based chain started with a single restaurant just outside the main entrance to LSU and has grown to 15 sports bars primarily in the Southeast and Texas and has sold rights to 110 locations, Landry said.

Qubty said he and Allen plan to place 10 Walk-On’s in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, one in Amarillo and two in El Paso. Other franchisees have placed sports bars in Tyler and San Antonio, and have designs on Houston.

Local real estate agent Jimmy Banks, who attended the groundbreaking, brokered a deal that gave the chain 2.8 acres near the small body of water that anchors the upscale development adjacent to the Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center. The hospital took half of a 150-acre site, leaving about 75 acres for retail, restaurant and lodging development.

Hotels operating there now include Homewood Suites by Hilton, TownPlace Suites by Marriott and Holiday Inn Express & Suites. Meanwhile, construction continues on a Hilton Garden Inn, Banks said.

Banks recently secured a commitment from P.F. Chang’s China Bistro to take land next to Walk-On’s. P.F. Chang’s, which has grown to about 200 locations, will occupy 7,000 square feet and include a patio on the lake. Banks said he expects P.F. Chang’s to open in the summer of 2018.

Qubty said P.F. Chang’s also placed a restaurant next to his Walk-On’s in Lubbock and he was surprised to hear the chain also is bound for Waco and will build at Legends Crossing.

“They are a great chain,” he said. “I hope they follow us all over Texas.”

Banks said P.F. Chang’s has submitted a landscaping plan to the city of Waco and soon will pursue a permit to start site preparation.

Qubty said he sometimes avoids calling Walk-On’s a sports bar because the term creates negative images for some people.

“I guarantee you, we have children all over the place on most nights,” Qubty said. “We are not a ‘breastaurant.’ Our waitresses wear cheerleader uniforms, but our wives had to approve their styling before we went into business. They actually said the necklines were a little low, and the company agreed to make changes. They are receptive to franchisee input, even when I send emails at 3 in the morning.”

Landry said opening a Walk-On’s establishment typically represents an investment of about $4 million, including land costs.

“It’s a major expense, and we are very selective about our franchisees,” Landry said.

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Walk-On's

Walk-On's co-founder Brandon Landry speaks before a groundbreaking ceremony at Legends Crossing for the chain's new restaurant there.

Most owners can expect to gross $5 million to $7 million annually on food and alcohol sales, he said. Customers are divided about equally between men and women, and 40 percent of revenue is generated during lunchtime hours, 60 percent during the evening, Landry said.

Promotional material for Walk-On’s says New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has become a partner in the company and may attend Waco’s grand opening.

The typical Walk-On’s location features 70 flat-screen television sets and is decorated with sports memorabilia reflecting the achievements of local teams. In Waco, customers can expect to see green and gold items and photos of Baylor University athletes, Qubty said.

He said he will hire at least 200 people to staff the restaurant.

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