Walk On’s Bistreaux & Bar has been featured on Undercover Boss along with owner and founder Brandon Landry. The 40-year-old restauranteur was listed as one of Baton Rouge’s 40 under 40 to watch in 2019.
Walk On’s was established in 2003 after founder and CEO Brandon Landry came up with the idea along with Jack Warner. The company was built on the idea that success in sports and success in life come from similar paths. As former college athletes, Landry and Warner turned traits they learned on the basketball court into traits that would help grow their business.
NFL quarterback Drew Brees owns 25 percent of Walk On’s Restaurant & Bistreaux. He originally expressed an interest in the restaurant after visiting a New Orleans location with a group of friends one day. He contacted Landry to tell him he would not change a thing if he owned a sports bar and offered to buy into the business. Since that phone call in 2015, the business has grown exponentially.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Landry Played Basketball in College
Brandon Landry wasn’t awarded a scholarship to play basketball in college; instead, he joined the Louisiana State University’s basketball team as a walk-on player. His longtime dream at that time was to simply be a member of the team, and he was not put off by the fact that he was not recruited.
Landry played with the team from 1997 to 2000. It was during those years that he started to think about Walk On’s as a concrete idea. He knew he wouldn’t be going into the NBA and needed something to do with his life. Having spent years traveling with the team and visiting sports bars, he and Warner wanted to create a place people could go to watch sports and eat where the food would be just as good as the sports.
“I’ll say this,” he told 225 Baton Rouge. “Having the basketball background, especially being a walk-on, we had those traits and characteristics kind of instilled in us: the walk-on mentality from the beginning to say, ‘Let’s never give up. Let’s just keep trying no matter what hand you’re dealt.'”
2. He Co-Founded Walk-On’s
Though he now owns the company alongside Drew Brees, Landry used to own the company alongside Jack Warner. In 2013, though, when the restaurant was celebrating its 10th anniversary of being open, the two business partners split up.
After many conversations, the business partners agreed to be bought out by businessman Rick Farrell, who wanted to take Walk On’s national. At that point, Warner was bought out and Farrell and Landry became equal partners in the company Last In Concepts, which owns Walk On’s. Warner retains a minority interest in Last in Concepts.
Drew Brees bought into 25 percent of the company in 2015. It is not clear what percentage of the company is currently owned by Landry and Farrell, though Landry is listed as the Founder, Co-Owner and CEO on the company website.
3. Landry Appeared on Undercover Boss
Landry and Brees both appeared on the season 9 premiere of Undercover Boss, which first aired Wednesday, January 8, 2020. In the episode, Brees and Landry go undercover to see what about their company may need to change. Brees visited a New Orleans-based restaurant on his undercover mission while Landry visited other locations.
After Undercover Boss filmed, Walk On’s instituted a “Bluechip” program to help lessen turnover in their restaurants. The program plots out development plans for all employees with the goal of helping team members build careers within the growing brand.
“Witnessing our growth and success over this past year has been tremendously rewarding,” Landry told PR Newswire. “But even with our ramped-up expansion, we never lose sight of the connections we have with the communities we already serve. […] Our team is tremendously excited for what the future holds for the rest of 2019 and beyond.
4. He Has Won Many Awards
Landry is committed to more than just the restaurant chain. He is active in many organizations supporting the success of his company and the industry overall. He’s also active in community organizations. Being active in these circles has earned Landry many awards.
He has been named Baton Rouge Young Business Person of the Year, he has been included in Baton Rouge Business Reports Top 40 under 40 and he has been Baton Rouge Sales and Marketing Executives Marketer of the year. He was also voted Louisiana Restaurant Association’s Restauranteur of the Year. On top of these awards, Walk On’s has been voted number one sports bar by ESPN in 2012.
When asked how Walk On’s is separated from other competition in the sports-restaurant industry, Landry spoke to “Business Report” about the importance of focusing on the food instead of just focusing on sports.
“Our Food has been our biggest point of differentiation from our competition,” he said. “Every location that we open now, the food is what is talked about the most for bringing them in. Typically in sports restaurants, food is not the focus. We changed that.”
5. Walk On’s Has 33 Open Restaurants
In June 2019, Walk On’s had already opened 28 locations. Since then, the restaurant has expanded even further with plans to nearly double the number in 2020. While many sports bars are facing declines, Walk On’s revenue grew nearly 60 percent in 2018. Landry cites the quality of the food as a major reason why the revenue keeps growing.
“It’s all about our quality,” Landry told Forbes in 2019. “Typically sports bars are known for having guys who hang out. You drink beer, watch a game and, if you’re hungry, you get something to eat. We’ve broken the mold of being a traditional sports bar. Our guests are coming in to eat first.”
Walk On’s currently has locations in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, North Carolina and Florida.