From football coach to restaurateur?
Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux announced Friday morning that Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney is a new franchisee of the restaurant chain.
The Louisiana-based company will open 15 units in the Carolinas under a new multi-restaurant development deal, which includes Clemson and a second location in Myrtle Beach that are already under construction.
“Being part of a great sporting experience such as Walk-On’s was a no-brainer for me because I believe in their core values and their connection to the community,” Swinney said in a statement provided by the company. “(Co-Founder) Brandon Landry and the story behind Walk-On’s is something I resonate with as a former walk-in wide receiver. help bring that Louisiana flavor and hospitality to more markets across the Carolinas.
The Clemson location is expected to open by late summer or early fall of this year.
Swinney will be “instrumental in opening up” the Clemson site and the brand will “help establish a presence in the Clemson community,” according to the press release. It will be franchised within the Pavilion Group and Carolina Eats who are leading the Carolinas expansion. Carolina Eats owner Jason Sadowski has brought in partners like former Tiger and current Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne in other markets.
As involved as he will be, don’t expect to see Swinney in the kitchen whipping up VooDoo Shrimp & Grits or cracking crawfish once the Clemson Walk-On location opens.
“He’s a great face to associate our brand with, especially in the Clemson market,” Landry told The State of Swinney. “He can make appearances or things like that, but it’s just great to have him in the family of athletes in our Walk-On.”
Swinney and Landry first met through a mutual friend, author and speaker Damon West last year and linked on similar stories. In 1997, Landry tried to walk with LSU’s 1997 men’s basketball team and met Jack Warner, who was also trying to earn a berth. They became friends and managed to join the program.
Three years later, while traveling after a road trip to the University of Tennessee, Warner and Landry began drawing up a floor plan for a sports bar on the back of a towel. On September 9, 2003, the two former basketball players opened the first Walk-On Sports Bistreaux (the alternate spelling of “bistro” being a nod to Louisiana’s Cajun heritage) near LSU’s Tiger Stadium.
Since its inception, former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has become a co-owner of Walk-On’s, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is a franchisee, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White is part of the market. South Florida restaurant. More than 50 restaurants have opened in 10 states with another 20 expected to open this year. There are currently three locations open in the Carolinas – Fayetteville and Wilmington, NC as well as Myrtle Beach.
Likewise, Swinney walked to Alabama and won a scholarship, wrote three letters (1990-92), and was in the band Crimson Tide. Championship winning campaign in 1992.
Unlike Landry, however, Swinney chose to become a coach.
“I sell burgers and beer for a living and he’s a coach, so we’re a little different on that front,” Landry said.
Although they went into different industries after college, the paths of the two former extras crossed somewhere in the middle of food and sports.
“We are thrilled to have him in our family and can’t wait to see what lies ahead,” Landry said.