Walk-On's franchisee talks I-Drive design and two more Orlando-area sites

Baton Rouge-based sports bar chain Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar is close to signing two more leases for sites in Orlando and Kissimee's tourism corridors to follow its first on International Drive, and anticipates up to seven in the local market, the company's franchisee told GrowthSpotter

Craig Colby, a veteran restaurant owner with Pennsylvania-based ExecuFran, holds franchisee rights to develop multiple Walk-On's locations in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties.

His first will be a custom-designed, two-story restaurant along International Drive on the last vacant pad in the I-Shops retail center, first reported here last November. 

A Development Plan for that project was filed with Orange County on April 2. The location was originally considered for a new prototype two-story design that could be replicated elsewhere, but because of the narrow lot this will be a one-off building, Colby said. 

Land owner Unicorp National Developments is leading the plans through county permitting. Colby knows the timeline for that process can be unpredictable, so he's now estimating First Quarter 2019 to complete construction and open.

"Our investment on I-Drive will be north of $3 million," he said Friday. "Everyone wants to be on I-Drive for branding power. Being that close to Sand Lake Road, I think you get more walking traffic there than you do down near the convention center and Pointe Orlando."

Colby is also a Red Robin franchisee in the northeast, and received good feedback on the sales performance of the Red Robin that sits directly south of his I-Drive site. 

"I got a good rent structure there from (Unicorp)," he said. "It will be a lot more expensive for us designing this new custom building. I don't think it will be our highest volume restaurant we do here in Orlando, but you can't beat the branding." 

Brannon Wright, founder and CEO of local events supplier 11th Hour, was brought on by Colby as an investor in the I-Drive location. For all the other locations Colby opens in Florida, he has partnered with a team of co-investors led by Steve Nicklaus, son of famed golfer Jack Nicklaus. 

For Walk-On's second location, Colby has under contract a portion of Equinox Development Properties' 2.65-acre parcel directly north of Margaritaville Resort, along W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway (W192). It would join a row of five quick-service restaurants already developed as "Black Lake Village."

And for its third local site, Colby said he's in advanced lease negotiations for space in the 69-acre Vineland Pointe shopping center along Daryl Carter Parkway.  

Looking forward, Colby said he envisions up to seven Walk-On's restaurants in the Greater Orlando market based on the attractive demographics in many submarkets. 

The franchisee favors sites of 1.5 to 2 acres, and seeks daily traffic counts of at least 35,000 vehicles fronting the property, he said. 

Heather Coons, associate with Orlando-based BluRock Commercial Real Estate, is Walk-On's local tenant representative. Submarkets they've been exploring closely include Lake Mary, Sanford Altamonte Springs, the UCF region and ChampionsGate. 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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