The Top 100 Food and Restaurant Franchises of 2018

June 14, 2018 // NewsTimes // Tracy Stapp Herold

In the franchising world, food still reigns supreme. Almost a quarter of the 1,023 companies that applied for this year’s Franchise 500 were food-based franchises, and half of the companies that ranked in the top 10 were quick-service restaurants. Some of the oldest and largest franchises in the world are food-based, and new ones arrive on the scene every year, ready to capitalize on the latest trends, like build-your-own pizza and poke bowls.

That said, food franchises can be some of the most challenging to build — with higher capital costs and more complicated operations than many other industries. But they can also be some of the most rewarding. They’re particularly popular with franchisees interested in multi-unit ownership. So, if you’ve got a taste for food-based franchises — whether it’s one unit or 100 — start with our list of the top 200. You’ll find them on the following pages, ranked within their respective categories (such as coffee, hamburgers and Mexican food).

These rankings are based on the score each company received when evaluated by our Franchise 500® formula, which considers more than 150 data points in the areas of costs and fees, size and growth, franchisee support, brand strength and financial strength and stability. But please understand, our list is not intended as a recommendation of any particular company. It’s vital that you do your own research to find the franchise that’s right for you (and that means more than just trying the food). Read the company’s legal documents, consult with an attorney and an accountant, and talk to existing and former franchisees.

#13 Native Grill and Wings Franchising 
Startup cost: $998K – $2.6M
Total franchises/co.-owned: 34/2

To read the full article click here.

The Best Places to Eat, Drink, and Watch the World Cup

June 14, 2018 // Phoenix New Times // Benjamin Leatherman, Audrey Kruse

The World Cup, the globe’s biggest sporting event, kicks off today. Though the U.S. squad shit the bed and will not be playing, that doesn’t mean we should skip all the great matches and booze to be enjoyed. (Hey, at least we get an automatic qualification in 2026.) Here are a bunch of places to relax with friends, throw a few back, and watch the beautiful game’s greatest tournament in style.

Native Grill & Wings in southeast Phoenix.

Native Grill & Wings
5020 West Baseline Road, #123
The Laveen location of the local wing joint chain will be the spot where the Phoenix chapter of Pancho Villa’s Army (the official fan club for Mexico’s fútbol squad) will be partying during World Cup 2018. Their first celebration will take place starting at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 17, when Mexico takes on Germany. Drink specials and a “Mexican breakfast bonanza” will be offered and a raffle, prize giveaways, and live music are also planned. Similar affairs will be held at the location during the team’s upcoming matches.

To read the full article click here.

13 places to watch the 2018 World Cup in metro Phoenix

June 14, 2018 // // Elizabeth Backo

Soccer fans in Phoenix might need to make a few adjustments to their sleep schedules for the next month.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is set to start in Moscow on Thursday, June 14, and the time-zone difference is not too convenient for Arizona fans. The earliest game kicks off at 3 a.m. local time. The latest starts at noon.

For the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in which Germany beat Argentina in extra time in the final, Phoenix fans only had to account for a time difference of a few hours.

“A 10-hour time difference is a massive thing,” said Tony Wimberely, a manager at George and Dragon English Restaurant and Pub.

But despite the early start times, he still anticipates the bar will be packed for all of the Mexico and England games. He expects people to line up outside at 3 a.m. for England’s 5 a.m. game against Panama on June 24.


A few places in town will open their doors earlier than usual for soccer lovers. A handful of others will show games during regular business hours and have specials for the matches. So, if you are not traveling to Moscow for the World Cup, here is where you can watch in the Valley.

Native Grill and Wings

If you are looking to watch any of Mexico’s games, Native Grill and Wings is the place to go. This location will be the headquarters for Pancho Villa’s Army, a group that supports the Mexico national team.

On Father’s Day, the location will open at 7 a.m. for the Mexico game. Viewers can purchase a bowl of menudo or a traditional breakfast for $5. Tall Estrella beer can be purchased for $4.

Details: 5020 W Baseline Road, Phoenix. (602) 237-9068,

To read the full article click here.

Native Grill & Wings Introduces Lunchtime-Focused Menu

June 07, 2018 // FSR Magazine // Industry News

Native Grill & Wings, an award-winning Arizona-based restaurant chain known for its wing flavors that guests can order by the individual wing, has recently debuted a new lunch menu filled with lunchtime promotions to provide customers with value driven meal options.

Native’s lunch menu features the Big Ol’ Slice lunch special, a deal that lets customers can order a larger than normal slice of pizza and choice of soda or tea for only $5.00 at participating locations. In addition to their Big Ol’ Slice special, Native introduces the mix & match lunch option allowing customers to choose an entrée and add as many sides of their favorite appetizers to pair.

“We are thrilled to debut our revamped lunch menu as it is customizable to every individual guest,” says CEO Dan Chaon. “We want them to be able to enjoy a filling, delicious lunchtime meal at a value-driven price point. At Native we’re always trying to find new ways to say “thank you” to our customers for all of the success we’ve garnered over the years. Creating menus and promos that give them the best bang for their buck is part of that.”

The lunch menu also highlights the return of Native fan favorites – jalapeño puffs and curly fries. After being featured on Native’s Throwback menu this past March, the one-of-a-kind customer favorites will now become permanent menu items.

These new additions come on the heels of Native Buffalo Fries as they continue to be a successful menu item after their launch in March. Native Buffalo Fries offer a unique take on Native’s signature seasoned fries and chicken strippers – an item that is the first of its kind to casual dining restaurants in the chicken wing sector of Arizona.

“Our Throwback Menu received such enthusiasm from Native guests – old and new, that it was a no-brainer to include these Native legacy items on our new menu,” Chaon says. “We want our food to speak for the thoughtfulness that Native puts into creating a menu that best serves our guests.”

Native Grill & Wings (or, “Native,” as the regulars called it) focuses on food and being family-friendly unlike competitors such as Hooters, Twin Peaks and Buffalo Wild Wings. The polished sports grill proudly offers 20 wing flavors – from Strawberry Hot to Ancho Chile Lime, Asian Garlic to Honey Chipotle – that guests can order by the individual wing, as well as an extensive menu of burgers, sandwiches, salads and more. Most of the sauces and rubs can be used to customize other menu items.

The restaurants are divided into a bar and restaurant, with approximately 30-40 flat screen TVs throughout, offering sports coverage for families and serious fans, and a customer base spanning all generations – baby boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials.


Native Grill & Wings Continues to Grow in Peoria

May 23, 2018 //

Wing Serving restaurant brand to expand in community

CHANDLER, AZ – Native Grill & Wings, an award winning Arizona-based restaurant chain known for its 20 wing flavors that guests can order by the individual wing, is continuing its growth in the local Peoria area.

The newest location will be located in 25315 N. Lake Pleasant Pkwy. The addition will be one of the eight locations owned by father-daughter business duo, Greg Weltsch and Sharon Spickler. With experience in management, franchising and a love for Native – this dynamic duo is capitalizing on the opportunity to become a major part of the restaurant franchise.

“I grew up eating at Native New Yorker in high school and college,” said Sharon Spickler who will be the sole owner of the Lake Pleasant location. “I’ve always liked the concept, and to be a part of growing the brand is exciting.”

Native Grill & Wings (or, “Native,” as the regulars call it) focuses on high-quality food and being a family-friendly environment, unlike competitors such as Hooters, Twin Peaks and Buffalo Wild Wings. The polished sports grill proudly offers over 20 wing flavors – from Strawberry Hot to Ancho Chile Lime, Asian Garlic to Honey Chipotle – which guests can order by the individual wing, as well as an extensive menu of pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, salads and more. Most of the sauces and rubs can be used to customize other menu items.

“My father and I saw potential to grow with the brand, and it’s been fun to see how far we’ve come since starting. Now we’re preparing to open our eighth location – I don’t see us slowing down any time soon,” said Spickler.

The restaurants are divided into a bar and restaurant, with approximately 30-40 flat screen TVs throughout, offering sports coverage for families and serious fans, and a customer base spanning all generations – baby boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials.

“Native is consistently growing in Arizona, and it’s incredible to see what the Weltsch and Spickler organization has accomplished,” said CEO Dan Chaon. “We’re incredibly pleased with the acclaim we’ve received over the past few years, and are excited to see the same following and recognition in with their new location.”

About Native Grill & Wings

Based in Chandler, Arizona, Native Grill & Wings is a family-friendly, polished sports grill with over 30 restaurants throughout Arizona, Idaho, Massachusetts, Missouri, South Dakota and Texas. Native, as the brand’s legion of fans call it, serves over 20 award-winning wing flavors that guests can order by the individual wing, as well as an extensive menu of pizza, burgers, sandwiches, salads and more. Today, combined with a strong leadership team and a growing group of franchisees, Native Grill & Wings is gaining national recognition as one of the fastest-growing concepts in the more than $200 billion full-service restaurant industry. For more information, visit

Native’s new menu items restore classics, turn up the heat

March 31, 2018 // Connor Dziawura // East Valley Tribune 

A Valley staple for nearly 40 years, Native Grill & Wings – formerly Native New Yorker – is throwing it back to the classics, while also looking to the future.

Earlier this month, the popular wing chain started serving four former customer favorites as part of its limited-time Throwback Menu. The menu lasts through April 30.

Jalapeño Puffs a limited time offer as part of the Native Throwback Menu

“When we got rid of some items, we got a lot of feedback from guests – whether it be on social or through our app – saying they wanted these particular items back,” said Native PR & Marketing Coordinator Adriana Espinosa at an insider tasting event. “So, we decided to do a limited-time-offer menu with all of our throwback items from our old-school Native days.”

The Throwback Menu includes jalapeño puffs, curly fries, cheesy garlic bread and cheese and crackers, the latter of which is a surprise favorite. Formerly served at every table, the idea is simple – a plate of saltine crackers with a cheddar cheese spread.

One of the most requested items on the limited-time menu, though, is jalapeño puffs.

“Jalapeño puffs was something that our guests craved on a regular basis,” said Steve Snyder, the IT/systems manager. He is also the executive chef at company headquarters’ test kitchen in Chandler.

The item, as described by Snyder, is an eggroll wrapper stuffed with a sharp cheddar cheese spread and brined jalapeños. But be careful; while tasty, this item is sure to turn up the heat. Starting with a nice crunch, one bite quickly gives way to the item’s cheesy filling and spicy jalapeños. Though it doesn’t quite reach the levels of the infamous ghost pepper, a satisfying kick is present for the mild palate.

“Very simple, but that was the kind of food that Native was raised on,” Snyder added. “It was all simple food. People like it.”

Curly fries were restored for the Throwback Menu “because it’s one of those things that you got to have,” Snyder said. Though not as peppery as Native’s signature fries, the classic twist is a satisfying and essential appetizer. But there’s a reason Native boasts such tasty fries.

“One of the things that makes the fries always taste the best is we have a parmesan, garlic and asiago cheese especially made just for us based on our proprietary recipe,” Snyder said. “That’s why Native fries taste the way they do.”

Aside from limited-time items, however, Native boasts one other recent launch: Native Buffalo Fries. Though it also debuted this month, this one isn’t limited.

Sure to be a filling appetizer, the item starts with a base of the restaurant’s signature fries, then adds the similarly new Native sauce and a “healthy little dosage” of chicken strips, Snyder said. An extra side of the new Native sauce is also given. To top the plate off is a medium sauce (which has a minimal kick), though this can be substituted for a variety of heat levels. Boasting sauces and dry rubs, Native has over 20 kinds.

“It’s really cool to see the combinations,” Espinosa said.

One final addition to Native’s arsenal is its boneless wings, which are prepared in-house. The item was completely redesigned last year.

“We panko bread it ourselves, dredge it in buttermilk, so it’s an entirely different product than what we had served in the past,” Snyder said.

Unlike some breaded items, however, it’s not overtly dry. The breading is very light, while the flavor is strong – depending on your choice of sauce. One interesting choice is mango habanero. With one bite, the mango immediately becomes apparent. But that’s when it hits. The habanero is quite strong, boasting a decent kick that lingers. Not to say it’s a detractor, though, as individuals looking for a little bit of sweet – and a little bit of heat – may find satisfaction.

Founded in 1979 by two natives of Buffalo, New York, the restaurant began as a pizza shop before transitioning to wings. CEO Dan Chaon took over in 2010, and it rebranded from Native New Yorker to Native Grill & Wings in 2014.

“This is our brand, so we’re very proud of it,” Chaon enthused.

This article also appeared in the West Valley View.

Interview with Dan Chaon, CEO at Native Grill & Wings

January 20, 2018 // USA Weekly

Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. It is not easy running a company, especially in a fast-paced, ever-changing business world. Technology advances, new hiring strategies, and now, political changes coming with the new administration, all add to the existing business challenges that entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives have to deal with.

Maximizing profits, minimizing expenses and finding talented staff to keep things moving seem to be top challenges for both SMBs and large corporations. We have been interviewing companies from around the world to discover what challenges they are facing in their businesses. We also asked each company to share business advice they would give to a younger version of themselves.

Below is our interview with Dan Chaon, CEO at Native Grill & Wings:

What does your company do?

Native Grill and Wings is a family focused sports grill with 40 years of history. The concept was originally known as Native New Yorker as the Anderson Family, who founded the brand, originated from Buffalo, New York. They were the first to bring Chicken Wings to the Southwest. The original Native New Yorker started off doing favorites such as traditional chicken wings, New York style pizza, calzones and sandwiches; it has grown into the Native Grill and Wings brand as locals and regulars routinely referred to their location as “my Native”. Today, the company has become a very successful franchising model, with a rich history and lots of opportunity for growth.

What is your role? What do you enjoy most about your role?

I have the honor of serving as CEO for an amazing brand. I hate titles, so I prefer looking at it as a great coaching job. Whoever coined the phrase, “you’re only as good as those you surround yourself with,” must have been speaking about the amazing Native team, those customers who frequent our restaurants every day and our valued franchisees who we consider to be partners. There are two things I enjoy most about my role. First of all, I get great satisfaction from taking the mistakes and victories from being in the industry for 28 years and using those as coaching moments for our franchise support team and our franchise owners. Secondly, I’ve learned that the only thing that never changes about the restaurant industry is that it’s always changing. It keeps you young at heart and on your toes, and I love that.

What are the biggest challenges in your business right now?

Right now, the biggest challenge facing the restaurant industry as a whole is truly finding frequency of visits to your brand. The economy is great, people have good disposable income to eat out, but there are a lot of choices. These choices come not only from direct competition but also the evolving way that guests dine out. With home meal replacement, third party delivery, emphasis on loyalty programs, etc., our guests can be very selective on how often and where to spend those dollars. The battle has never been greater for brands fighting to build year-over-year guest counts. That, coupled with high labor demands, diminishing skilled labor and commodity costs, restaurants really have to be focusing on blocking and tackling issues without managing their businesses down. It may seem like a given in our industry, but it’s all about food quality and level of service.

If you could go back in time, what business advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?

Be patient for results and impatient for actions needed for those results. Understand that running a brand is a marathon, but approach the marathon with a sprinters mentality. I was afraid early on to make mistakes and took it as defining grade, only to look back and realize some of our best outcomes came as a result of those mistakes. If you’re going to fail, fail fast and then pick yourself up from the bootstraps and get after it again.

40 Under 40: Restaurant Stars on the Rise

March 2018 // FSR Staff


Chefs, owners, bartenders—some barely in their 30s—fill this year’s list of Rising Stars, the folks to watch in 2018. This list shows stars can be born anywhere, in as expected a place as under the tutelage of Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin or, quite the opposite, washing dishes in a family restaurant or taking a job bussing tables just to break into the industry.

Take note, this year in particular, of how these chefs and restaurateurs embody a new wave of restaurant professionals. They are more creative, innovative, and bold than ever before.

Cynthia Velasco, 28, has been the Director of Marketing for Native Grill & Wings since the fall of 2016. 

When Cynthia Velasco embarked on her career with Native Grill & Wings, the Arizona-based concept was a struggling 19-unit brand. Velasco helped to transform it into a family-friendly sports grill with more than 30 locations. She introduced new brand guidelines, modernized marketing campaigns, and initiated a new fan base that turned into a loyal following.

“Evolving a brand involves taking risks, and [that] gave me the determination and persistence to stay true to course,” she says. “Native Grill & Wings provides a great balance of collaboration and autonomy, which fuels innovation and keeps the brand evolving. I’m constantly challenged, and there’s nothing better than the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day.”


A new restaurant opening in the Tri-States

March 2, 2018 // WGEM

An Arizona-based restaurant chain will open on Quincy’s Riverfront next week.

Native Grill and Wings will replace the Titled Kilt on 138 N. Front St. The company has more than 30 locations nationwide, but this is the first one in Illinois.
It’s billed as a family-friendly sports grill that will serve chicken wings, pizza, burgers, and more.

“The Tri-State area needed a great family friendly sports bar with great food and atmosphere,” said Heather Balzer the general manager.

Friday was their soft open to make sure they’re ready for when they officially open Monday, March 5.The restaurant will be open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday through Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight.

Native Grill & Wings Now Open in St. Charles, Serving 21 Flavors of Wings

January 19, 2018 // Mabel Suen // Feast Magazine

A popular chain from the southwest has made its way to the St. Louis area. Native Grill & Wings debuted its first midwest location in St. Charles with a soft opening on Jan. 17. The family-friendly sports bar is known most famously for its 21 different chicken wing flavors and also offers pizza, burgers and more.

Native Grill & Wings originated in 1978 and is based out of Chandler, Arizona. There are currently around 45 locations across the country. The St. Charles franchise is owned and operated by STL Native, LLC, which is made up of individuals with a combined 20 years of experience in the industry, including owning Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses in the St. Louis market. The group intends to open two to three additional locations of Native in the St. Louis area.

The St. Charles restaurant fills the space previously occupied by the Titled Kilt, with 270 seats throughout. The room features refurbished barn wood along its central bar, numerous TVs displaying sports events and a gaming area with air hockey, foosball, darts and Golden Tee. Local artist AJ Sanchez of St. Louis Underground Gallery will also be adding hand-painted murals to the walls.

The menu begins with the brand’s namesake wing sauces, which are available served with traditional bone-in wings, hand-breaded boneless wings and tenders. Popular flavor picks include ancho chile-lime dry rub, spicy honey mustard and honey hot sauce. Some more interesting options include ghost pepper as well as chicken ’n’ waffles dry rub.

Appetizers include options such as loaded tots, hummus and buffalo chicken nachos, while salads include highlights like the chicken apple walnut salad with garden romaine, Granny Smith apples, strawberries, candied walnuts, blue cheese crumbles, grilled chicken and citrus vinaigrette.

Hand-tossed New York style pizzas are available with topping options such as the house special with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions and black olives. From the burger menu, choose from options such as the “Hangover Burger” with hardwood-smoked bacon, hash brown, fried egg, avocado, lettuce and pepper jack cheese.

Weekly specials include all-you-can-eat wings on Tuesdays, boneless wing specials on Wednesdays and fish fries on Fridays. Behind the bar, guests will find 30 draft handles with several local craft beer options as well as a selection of around 25 whiskeys.

Native Grill & Wings’s current hours of operation are Sunday through Thursday from 11am to midnight and Friday through Saturday from 11am to 1:30am.

Native Grill & Wings, 1566 Country Club Plaza Road, St. Charles, Missouri, 636.493.9583,