Wings Etc. climbs Entrepreneur Franchise 500 list

Published 10:21 am Wednesday, February 7, 2024

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — A local restaurant franchise received two awards in January that point to the brand’s strength as a franchisor.

Wings Etc. was recognized as one of the Top 500 franchises in Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500, moving up from 414 in 2023 to 383 this year. For 45 years, the annual Entrepreneur Franchise 500 has been a highly sought-after honor in the franchise industry and recognized as an invaluable resource for potential franchisees. This year a record-setting 1,389 companies submitted their information.

Founded in 1994 by Jim Weaver in northern Indiana, Wings Etc. is a family-friendly grill and pub featuring award-winning jumbo Buffalo wings, 21 signature sauces and rubs, dozens of TVs tuned to sports programming and a casual, non-corporate-y, laid-back vibe that makes people want to just come in and hang out. See wingsetc.com. In 2007, Weaver and his business partners signed the first franchising agreement. Jeremy Bayles, a Niles native, was the first to franchise the award-winning chicken wing business at 2008 S. 11th St., in Niles Plaza.

The 2024 Franchise 500 ranks Wings Etc. for its performance in areas including unit growth, financial strength and stability and brand power. Each franchise is given a cumulative score based on an analysis of more than 150 data points and the 500 franchises with the highest cumulative scores become the Franchise 500 in ranked order. 

Wings Etc. also was named a Top Franchise for 2024 by Franchise Business Review. This is the 19th annual ranking of the 200 best franchise opportunities as rated by franchise business owners.

Franchise Business Review provides the only rankings and awards for franchise companies based on franchisee satisfaction and performance. Wings Etc. franchisees were surveyed on 33 benchmark questions about their experience and satisfaction regarding critical areas of their franchise systems, including training and support, operations, franchisor/franchisee relations, and financial opportunity.

“We’re thrilled and honored to achieve these high marks for our franchise operations and stand tall in a competitive market,” said Wings Etc. CEO Rob Hensmann. “It’s gratifying to know that our franchisees and our peers in the industry view Wings Etc. as a strong franchise opportunity.”

Of Wings Etc.’s 80 locations, 54 are franchisee-owned. The company offers single and multi-unit franchise options. The initial franchise fee is $39,500, with a $350,000 liquid cash investment and $700,000 minimum net worth requirement for interested prospects. Wings Etc. offers one of the lowest startup costs and break-even franchise opportunities in the full-service restaurant segment. Priority growth markets include Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.