Walk-On’s co-owners Brandon Landry and Drew Brees, partnering with local entrepreneurs Jacob Dugas and Scott Fargason, are launching a new fast-casual restaurant concept in Baton Rouge—Smalls Sliders—with a framework that can be scaled for franchise opportunities.
The concept, which features a drive-thru and a focus on slider burgers, is expected to launch this summer. The flagship location will be on Nicholson Drive across from Tigerland in the former Bud’s Broiler space, not far from Walk-On’s corporate headquarters.
While Landry came up with the Smalls Sliders concept, his nephew, Dugas, will handle operations and become the face of the brand. The venture will be separate from Walk-On’s, though the partners have plans to follow in that franchise’s footsteps by growing Smalls Sliders into a national brand.
“Not only do we have an elite plan for Smalls, but we also have a team of entrepreneurial powerhouses supporting the development of this (concept),” Dugas says this morning in a press release.
The partners declined to disclose the initial investment cost and Dugas says there are no specific expansion plans yet. The focus, for now, is on getting the first restaurant up and running.
“We want to focus on our flagship location to prove concept,” Dugas says. “By focusing on our brand, operations and customer experience, we can ensure future franchisees are set up for success.”
Asked about the increasingly competitive fast-casual burger market, especially in Baton Rouge, Dugas says Smalls Sliders will stand out for its service, quality and culture—something, he says, Landry and the Walk-On’s crew have already mastered. “With Brandon, we know it’s about so much more than food. It’s our culture, our brand—who we are.”
Also, brands with focused menus are doing well in the restaurant business right now, Dugas adds. With sliders and a drive-thru, the Smalls concept will be a bit more “on-the-go” than other burger joints.
Sticking to its simplistic focus, the restaurant will be built using shipping containers, allowing for quick construction turnaround, according to the press release. While Smalls Sliders will feature a drive-thru as the primary ordering option, customers can also walk-up and order at the restaurant, which will include only outdoor seating.
“Smalls was created a lot like Walk-On’s, ‘Hey, I have an idea!’” Landry said in a statement. “I told Drew about the concept, and he was all in.”
Brees has been a partner at Walk-On’s since 2015. The brand, which began franchising in 2014, currently has 25 restaurants in the Gulf South, 17 more are planned to open this year and another 137 locations under development.