Shift will allow chain to expand
Walk-On’s, which operates popular sports bars in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette, announced an ownership change Friday that will allow the chain to expand across Louisiana and outside the state.
Rick Farrell, a New Orleans businessman, has bought co-founder Jack Warner’s interest in Last In Concepts, which owns and operates Walk-On’s. Farrell, owner of RF Development, recently sold his interest in Tricon Energy LLC, an energy investment firm.
Last In Concepts spun off to Warner sole ownership in The Roux House, a bar and music venue with locations in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and Schlittz & Giggles, a pizza restaurant with two Baton Rouge locations. Warner will remain a minority partner in Last In Concepts.
“I’m very excited and honored that Rick is coming aboard with his expertise and his resources to help us continue our growth strategy in Louisiana and beyond,” said Brandon Landry, co-founder of Last In Concepts. “We have big plans for Walk-On’s and our other concepts, and with Rick’s help, the sky’s the limit.”
Farrell, an LSU graduate like Warner and Landry, said he has been impressed how Last In Concepts has grown.
“I’m convinced, though, that they’ve only scratched the surface with their restaurants, and I’m looking forward to helping build Last In Concepts into one of the finest operators in the industry,” Farrell said.
The first Walk-On’s opened in September 2003 in the shadow of Tiger Stadium. Since then, Landry and Warner have grown the chain to a $30 million company with four different restaurant and bar brands, and a catering business. Last In Concepts has 11 locations in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette, and a catering business, with 1,000 employees.
“This all started as a dream, with a business plan written at LSU while we were on the basketball team,” Warner said. “I’m looking forward to the future and whatever great opportunities may hopefully come my way.”
The Lafayette Walk-On’s opened in February 2011 and a location on Poydras Street in New Orleans, near the Superdome, opened in fall 2011. That New Orleans location won an ESPN contest as the best sports bar in America in 2012.
Taking the Walk-On’s brand nationwide had long been a goal of Landry and Warner.
“Our original goal, to be honest, was to own the SEC,” Warner told The Advocate in August. “That went back to our basketball traveling days when we would go to Ole Miss, go to Florida, go to Alabama. We wanted to own the sports bar section of the market.”
Landry said he’s fielded calls from people interested in bringing the restaurants to Shreveport, Monroe, Jackson, Miss., and Tuscaloosa, Ala.
“We’ve got a concept that people want now,” he said in August. “They’re talking about us being in developments with P.F. Chang’s and Bonefish Grill.”