It All Started With A Road Trip & A Dream
In 1978, Judy and Floyd Anderson crammed their family and their belongings into their car and did what Ameri.. read morecans have been doing for more than 200 years â€“ they headed west to chase a dream. What that dream was, theyâ€™d figure out later: they had more important things to worry about. About to embark on a cross country move from Buffalo, New York, to Phoenix, Arizona with their four young daughters, Debbie, Linda, Sherri and Jami in the backseat, Judy and Floyd were occupied with bigger concerns like â€śHow are we going to support ourselves?â€ť and â€śAre we crazy?â€ť
Steeled against a constant barrage of â€śAre we there yet?â€ť Judy and Floyd discussed their destiny on the drive west. As mile after mile rolled on beneath their tires and they watched the temperature creep higher and higher, the Andersons decided that once they had settled in Arizona, they would open a restaurant.
Sharing a passion for food and people, Floyd and Judy believed that a restaurant would allow the family to work together while taking advantage of the Phoenix areaâ€™s exploding population. It seemed like a simple, tailor-made plan. The more they thought about it, the more excited they became.
Of course, nothing is ever as simple as it seems.
Just a few months later, still growing accustomed to the heat and scorpions, Judy and Floyd had the opportunity to buy LaMonicaâ€™s, a small, local pizza joint. Ready to begin turning their dreams into reality, they went to the bank, got approved for a loan, and took the plunge.
Things started slowly.
When total nightly sales consistently failed to break $60, they didnâ€™t panic, knowing that building a business takes time. But as these first days turned into months, and then into their one-year anniversary without any improvement, it became increasingly difficult to keep telling themselves things would get better. Worry turned into depression, as they continued to change the menu and try every new fangled promotion they could think of. Nothing worked. Nagged by the incessant fear that they were running their finances into the ground, and with no one but creditors knocking on their restaurant door, the Andersons subscribed to the great American dream and borrowed more money.
When all else Fails, Just Wing It.
After a valiant effort and a long, long struggle, the Andersonâ€™s family dream was grasping for its last breaths. The money was gone. Their ideas had left them bankrupt. Their dreams now seemed nothing more than another sun-bleached skeleton claimed by the merciless desert landscape.
Then, just days before the bitter end, lightning struck. â€śWe gave it our best shot,â€ť was for other people. Judy decided to try one last menu promotion: Buffalo style chicken wings.
Being from Buffalo, New York, Judy and Floyd had spent many nights feasting on a local culinary phenomenon served at the now famous Anchor Bar. â€śIf it worked thereâ€ť, Judy thought, â€śwhy not here?â€ť And with that, Judy made a trip to the local grocery store to buy enough chicken wings to test this east coast favorite on the incidental restaurant patrons they still had.
From paint fumes and overly tired, slaphappy kids, genius can spring.
When the oldest daughter Debbie took a respite from complaining about how much her painting arm hurt, she sang along with lyrics of a 1977 Odyssey disco song playing on the stereo. These lyrics included five little words that would define the Anderson family for the rest of their collective lives: Youâ€™re a native New Yorker.
With a new image, a new niche, and a new name, Native New Yorkerâ€™s buffalo chicken wings recipe started to gain a foothold in the local dining community. In a move of obvious genius, Native New Yorker 10 cent chicken wings were set free from their Tuesday night cage and landed on the menu for the remaining six days of the week.
The Andersons had no way of knowing that their delicious, unique chicken wing recipe was quietly developing a following throughout the Phoenix Valley. With good word of mouth and limited but positive reviews, their business was growing slowly, though steadily, and they couldnâ€™t have been more relieved. Then lightning struck for a third time. What started out as a typical Friday night in 1978, turned into a life altering event: only minutes after opening, the restaurant was filled. An hour later, there was a line at the front door. An hour after that, Floyd and Judy were looking at a two-hour wait to get into their restaurant.
It was time to bring in the big guns.
Running to the phone, they called home, where Grandpa was watching the girls. Twenty minutes later, Judy was giving Debbie and Linda a crash course in table serving, Floyd was guiding Sherri through the intricacies of managing the door, and Grandpa was learning the art of chicken wing clipping and cutting, and little Jami quickly learned to answer the phones with the finesse of a seasoned switchboard operator. By the end of the night, Native New Yorker had crushed all sales records ten fold. The whole family sat down for a much deserved break and each of them, tired but too excited to collapse, knew that their two-year business struggle had come to a long awaited end.
Ahhhhh, the pains of profit. Now, Judy and Floyd were saddled with the equally challenging problems faced by owners of a run-away success. They were quickly becoming known for their wings, but they had no chicken distributor. Customers raved about the wing sauce, but they had no hot sauce supplier. They had no food servers to handle the crowds, and someone still had to manually cut every chicken wing that was served.
The Sweet Smell of Success
Eventually, Native New Yorker found a distributor for pre-cut chicken wings and Floyd was able to retire his knife. They found a hot sauce supplier, allowing Judy to once again walk through Tempe supermarkets without a disguise. With their recent struggles now seeming like distant memories, Judy and Floyd began to celebrate the dream that they had first entertained when they had loaded the girls into the back of the car and set out for Arizona.
By the early 80â€™s, Native New Yorker began winning what would become two decades worth of local, regional, and statewide dining awards. From their humble beginnings, the Anderson family opened up five more Native New Yorker restaurants, each more successful than the last. After rocking success with each of the five new stores, their concept matured. Wanting to offer more than traditional Buffalo chicken wings, the Native New Yorker menu and image slowly evolved into a family-friendly, sports-themed bar and grill restaurant with a distinctive menu of traditional American fare.
Today, Grandpa no longer runs the front of the house.
Now the Anderson daughters are key decision makers in the corporate office, not waitresses. But that early experience, shared by the whole family, remains the common thread that weaves together todayâ€™s Native New Yorker franchise system. Knowing the real value of having cohesive operational, marketing and distribution systems in place, the Native New Yorker management team shares a hard earned perspective on the value of proven model. It is their hope that while your story as a successful owner of a Native New Yorker chicken wing and sports bar franchise may not be as dramatic a tale as theirs, your success will be another story about top franchises.
Together, Floyd and Judy Anderson founded Native New Yorker when they moved to Arizona from New York after the Blizzard of 1977. They established themselves in the Valley of the Sun as good business people who were respected and valued. Owning and operating Native New Yorker restaurants became our family legacy.
Floyd's legacy will live on through his daughters and his wife, Judy as we continue our journey in the restaurant business in his memory.
Wings aren't just something we have built our business on, wings are earned when you have left this world a better place as Floyd did.
Thank you husband, father, grandfather, brother, business partner, friend ~ we will miss you.