A group of franchisees of a fast-growing chain of chicken restaurants forked over seven figures to land the brand’s first location in the city of Richmond.
A Zaxby’s franchise is planned to open this fall at 2309 W. Broad St., in place of a recently shuttered Arby’s that had been there since 1968.
The new Zaxby’s location is backed by a group called CWC Food Services, which comprises Ryan Converse, Bryan Willis and James Cannon, who own the brand’s franchise rights for much of the Richmond market. The group paid $1.71 million for the 3,256-square-foot property in a deal that closed April 25, according to city records. It was most recently assessed at $806,000.
Converse said plans call for keeping and remodeling the existing building. He and his partners opened the first Richmond Zaxby’s, a fast casual chicken chain, in February at 5816 W. Broad St. (that location is temporarily closed after a car ran into it). They opened a second Zaxby’s in April at 9110 Staples Mill Road.
“This will be the first one in the city,” Converse said, adding the city’s density made it hard to find a location. “When this opportunity came up for us, we were shocked.”
Converse, 31, moved to Richmond from Georgia 10 months ago to lead Zaxby’s push into the area. In addition to the city location, his group has plans for a total of nine Zaxby’s in Henrico. There are forthcoming locations planned for the Wyndham area on Nuckols Road and at 4788 N. Laburnum Ave. in eastern Henrico. CWC Food Services bought its rights to the Richmond market in 2014.
“It’s been a long road to get open in Richmond,” Converse said.
Converse worked for more than a decade on Zaxby’s corporate side, including a stint as the Georgia-based company’s first mascot, a large chicken. The company was founded in 1990 and has opened more than 700 locations.
“We’re a regional powerhouse in the South,” Converse said, adding that Richmond being home to Zaxby’s fans made it an attractive place to expand. “I think Richmond is going to be a whole different place in 10 years. It’s kind of like a secret market. It kind of reminded me of a young Atlanta.”
Converse would not discuss the financials of his group’s push into Richmond. Zaxby’s has a franchise fee of $35,000, according to its website, and puts the initial cost of opening a franchise between $215,100 and $655,000. Converse said there are other ownership groups that own the Zaxby’s rights to Hanover County and Chesterfield County.
The new West Broad location will be next door to Chicken Fiesta, a popular Richmond-based chain that has three area locations in the area.
Peter Vick and Harrison Hall of NAI Eagle represented the seller in the transaction. Robby Brownfield of CBRE | Richmond represented the buyer.