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Posted: 10/6/2005 4:35:16 PM EDT
The originator of the chicken wing is going national

www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20051004/1061255.asp

Anchor Bar to franchise nationwide with West Coast twist
By MICHELLE KEARNS
News Business Reporter
10/4/2005

The Main Street bar that invented a spicy hot late night chicken wing snack and made it famous far beyond Buffalo's borders is ready to sell "Anchor Bar" franchises nationwide with a West Coast twist.

To better appeal to people from Seattle to Bangor, Me., Buffalo's classic hot wing recipe will now come with a new California-designed menu of cayenne-dusted homemade potato chips, smoked turkey leg, Asian nachos, charbroiled eggplant and buffalo-meat burgers.

"So people can come back and not have to eat the same food all the time," said John Veyette, president of the Anchor Bar Franchise Co. "We have to keep the menu exciting."

Such diversification from the original Anchor Bar's more standard pizza, pasta and chicken wing fare was essential, he said. "We're appealing to a whole national taste profile," said Veyette. "We keep creating more and more dishes so franchisees can pick."

For the past year Veyette has been working to develop the franchise plan, which earned its state registration acceptance last week. Now business people who have contacted him from Las Vegas, Atlanta and Phoenix can pick from one of three franchise prices from strip mall size to a larger "replica" version: $20,000 for 900 to 1,200 square feet, $35,000 for 2,800 square feet, $49,500 for 6,800 square feet, which is closest to the original restaurant. Franchisees must also pay royalties of 6 percent of gross revenues.

The Anchor Bar Restaurant formula comes with management advice from the franchise company, design help and photographs of all the original wall memorabilia - from autographed pictures of Hillary Clinton, Muhammad Ali and Louie Armstrong to comic strips with chicken wings in the joke. (One has a soldier asking another, "What was your greatest victory, sir?" The other answers, "Eating 273 chicken wings at Frank and Teressa's Anchor Bar . . .")

Each franchise will have the tavern look of the Anchor Bar with the same kind of entrance decor - a buffalo head with wings behind the ears and a five and a half foot tall statue of liberty holding a plate of wings.

"Once you walk in that door you're going to think you're in the Anchor Bar back in Buffalo," said Veyette.

The franchise plan began when the restaurant's two co-owners considered proposals and sought advice. Edith Bellissimo, the widow of the founders' son, owns the Anchor Bar with a former employee Ivano Toscani. The pair are now partners in the franchise company. The other partners are Veyette and Henry Weber, an old friend of Veyette's and the president of ReMax of New York, a real estate franchise.

Weber, who lives in Long Island was used to eating at the bar when he visited Buffalo. He approached Veyette for his friend's experience working with real estate and food franchises. Last June Veyette moved here from California and began developing the plan.

Already other restaurants in other cities have opened with the words "Buffalo Chicken Wings" in the name. But Veyette is not worried about the competition.

"I defy anybody to go anywhere and find wings that are better than ours," he said.

The Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar, which opened in 1935, created the chicken wings in 1964. Veyette told the story: Teressa Bellissimo was cooking while her son Domonic was bartending. Hungry friends came in after the restaurant kitchen had closed. They ordered drinks and she took chicken wings she'd intended to make soup stock with, fried them and tossed them with hot sauce she stirred up on the spot.

"The guys fell in love," said Veyette.

The franchises and their potential proliferation will not interfer with the original Anchor Bar - though the old place may adopt some of the new menu items.

"There will not be a franchise within 50 miles of the Anchor Bar," said Veyette. "Part of the Anchor Bar's charm is the fact that it's 100 percent Buffalo."

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