Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, which has grown from a single location in the shadows of Tiger Stadium to a nationwide chain of sports bars, will move its corporate headquarters from Baton Rouge to Atlanta.
The chain put its 27,000-square-foot headquarters up for sale last month and is asking for $4 million for the property. The headquarters is in the same Burbank Drive shopping center as the first Walk-On's.
Brandon Landry, Walk-On's co-founder and board chairman, said the move is bittersweet.
"We're a victim of our own success," he said.
In order for Walk-On's to keep growing and become more of a national brand, the company needs to attract top restaurant talent. Atlanta is one of the biggest restaurant industry hubs in the country, he said. Walk-On's CEO?Chris Dawson and other members of the leadership team are already based out of the city.??
It didn't make sense to keep a large headquarters building in Baton Rouge for about a dozen employees, Landry said.
Walk-On's will keep its corporate office in Baton Rouge until the headquarters building sells. The company will keep a satellite office in the city, and some staffers will work remotely.
"We're a Louisiana brand, none of that will change," Landry said. "Our commissary is still in Belle Rose."?
The move to Atlanta isn’t entirely out of left field. 10 Point Capital, an Atlanta-based private equity firm, bought a stake in Walk-On's in October 2020. Landry, said at the time that the company made the move to help it achieve its goal of opening 150 locations over the next five years. 10 Point played a role in the growth of several national chains, including Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Slim Chickens.?
Walk-On’s opened at satellite office in Atlanta?in early 2022. At the time, company officials said the branch was needed to fill finance, analytics and technology positions. The plan was for about 10 people to work in Atlanta while about 50 worked in the Baton Rouge office.?
Now, the situation will be reversed with about 50 employees based out of Atlanta and a dozen or so remaining in Baton Rouge.?
The move represents a continued period of change for Walk-On’s, which was founded in 2003 by Landry and Jack Warner, who were teammates on LSU’s basketball team. The first location, still in operation, is on Burbank Drive, a stone’s throw from Tiger Stadium.
Landry stepped down as CEO in January 2023 to focus on other ventures, including Smalls Sliders and the high-end Supper Club restaurant in Baton Rouge.?
Despite the changes, the Walk-On’s brand continues to grow.
Walk-On’s currently has nearly 75 locations in 15 states. Though heavily concentrated in college towns in the southeast U.S., the chain has a location in Las Vegas. The company has also flirted with plans for international locations. Landry has previously mentioned Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Middle East as markets that have shown interest.
The restaurant chain opened its second location, in Lafayette, eight years after the original restaurant was born, and a franchise model started in 2014. Landry and Warner’s business partnership in Walk-On’s ended that year.
Former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees joined as a partner in 2015, and the restaurant’s roster of franchisees includes former LSU football star Devin White, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks.
Landry has said up to 200 locations are in various stages of development, ranging anywhere from franchise negotiations to opened locations. He previously expressed optimism that Walk-On’s could be a half-billion-dollar company — if not a billion-dollar company — “in a few years.”
Charlie Colvin of Momentum Commercial Real Estate, who has the listing for the Walk-On's building, said there has been strong interest in the property. Potential uses for the building include entertainment concepts, office space or going back to its original use as retail space. It was home for The Co Op Bookstore until Walk-On's purchased it in October 2017.