Two more restaurant chains target Music City

Carolina, Atlanta franchisors want to open almost 30 outlets across state by 2017

Two more regional dining chains plan to make their mark in Middle Tennessee in the coming years.

Executives at East Coast Wings & Grill in North Carolina say they want to open at least six area locations by 2017. Meanwhile, leaders of the Huddle House chain headquartered in Atlanta say Tennessee will play a significant part in their plans to open 140 new restaurants — many of them inside Pilot Travel Centers across the Southeast.

Word of the expansion plans at East Coast and Huddle House comes shortly after another dining concept company with regional ambitions, Boneheads in Atlanta, said it has teamed up with a pair of Memphis-area restaurant veterans to open five Nashville-area sites.

East Coast Wings & Grill markets 75 flavors of chicken wings as well as burgers, sandwiches and the like. The family-focused chain has posted same-store sales increases in 34 straight quarters and wants to sign up franchisees to open 17 restaurants in the Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga markets in the next five years.

“We have developed patiently over the last eight years,” said Sam Ballas, CEO of East Coast Wings & Grill, which has 24 locations in North Carolina. “We are a brand focused on strategic growth and are confident that Nashville will be yet another successful market for us.”

Over at Huddle House — the former home of Captain D’s CEO Phil Greifeld — growth is being driven by a new prototype and the linking up with Pilot Travel Centers. The chain, which already runs more than 400 locations in 20 states, plans to open another 30 in 2013. Chief Marketing Officer Marc Butler said his team’s same-store sales have been climbing for 19 consecutive months.

Venues like Pilot gas stations and truck stops are helping drive expansion. The Knoxville-based chain has signed agreements to open 15 locations, each employing more than 30 people.