The WingHouse Bar & Grill
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|Founded||1994 in Largo, FL|
|Products||Wings, Burgers, Sandwiches, Alcohol|
|Revenue||$60 million (2008)|
Number of employees
|Parent||Soaring Wings LLC|
When Ker was playing for the Denver Broncos, he purchased part interest in the Frat House, a restaurant in Gainesville, Florida. The eatery failed, due to numerous underage drinking busts, and Ker lost his entire investment. It was an expensive lesson about absentee ownership.
In 1992, Ker retired from the NFL and took a job selling cars at a local dealer. In 1994, he invested half interest in a Largo, Florida wing restaurant called, "Wing House" that imitated Hooters. This time, he was again absentee owner, but Ker's business partner handled the management. After losing $1,000 a month for the first quarter, Crawford was certain he could do a better job. The restaurant was always The Wing House, and the atmosphere was always toned down to make it more family friendly. The restaurant did well and two additional locations were opened in the Tampa Bay area in the following three years.
Ker won a $1.2-million jury award from Hooters in late 2004, which had sued him for trademark violations for allegedly using their uniforms and decor. After a three-week trial in which lawyers discussed hula hoops, surfboards, scrunchy socks, pantyhose and something called "vicarious sexual recreation", the jury ruled that no trademark infringement existed and Hooters was penalized for their frivilous lawsuit. Hooters appealed the decision, but in June, 2006, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld the verdict.[dead link]
As of 2007, the company had 1,700 employees at 22 locations with revenue of nearly $60 million. Ker attended, and the company participated in, the 2007 National Buffalo Wing Festival and placed first in the traditional x-hot sauce category and gained some national recognition.[dead link]
On June 4, 2008 the company announced the launch of its national franchise program. In mid-2008 the chain operated 19 locations in Florida and Texas and expected to add six franchises by the end of 2008, and 48 by 2011. The initial focus was for franchises in the Southeastern US.[dead link]
WingHouses feature several amenities that differ from other wing restaurants, including Hooters. There is a full liquor bar in every store, sports memorabilia line the walls instead of NASCAR and most locations include a game room.
- Benham, Kelley:"A wing and a player" St. Petersburg Times, July 15, 2005]
- Raoux, John: "Hooters loses copycat court battle against fledgling chain Ker's Winghouse" Orlando Sentinel, December 3, 2004
- Salinero, Mike: "Hooters Loses Suit To Rival On Appeal" Tampa Tribune, June 17, 2006
- WLBT Channel 3: September 6, 2007-Ker's WingHouse Bar and Grill voted #1 at National Buffalo Wing Festival
- Smart Business Tampa Bay: April 2007-Fast Lane, Clearing the way
- "Ker's WingHouse makes Texas debut, eyes 10 more" Nation's Restaurant News, November 28, 2005
- Bond, Sharon: "Newest venue's sporting wings" St. Petersburg Times, March 22, 2000
- "Crawford Ker's WingHouse to Host Doug Williams Celebrity Experience and Max Starks Celebrity VIP Party" PR Newswire, January 15, 2009