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During his 10-year NBA career, talented power forward Drew Gooden has played for nine teams including the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic and now, the Milwaukee Bucks. That means that he's had a chance eat food in every major city -- ten times over. When the NBA strike occurred last summer, Gooden had time to ponder business opportunities and plot his post-NBA career. Where did his research lead him? Wingstop. He spoke on the phone with YP.com.
Our Interview With Drew Gooden:
How many franchises do you own -- and what are they?
I just signed a four-store development agreement to build four Wingstops in Central Florida. We're in the process of starting to build the first unit. Right now, it's slated to open in May.
What was the process like of finding a franchise?
I looked at Jimmy John's, McDonald's, Burger King, Popeyes Chicken and Five Guys ... I Googled every franchise. I went to their websites and filled out franchise applications. Subway, 7-Eleven and others. It was all right there in the click of a button ... If you ask someone, how do you buy a McDonald's? You don't just simply buy one. There are a lot of factors involved. People ask how I got started with Wingstop. It all started with the applications.
How did the NBA lockout play a role in facilitating your multi-unit deal?
That actually gave me some time not to focus on the upcoming season, but my goals off the court. As far as what I wanted to do after basketball. It gave me a time frame. I started thinking, 'What if basketball wasn't around?' It [also] gave me enough time to meet with the CEOs of big corporations. Time to build these connections to see if I wanted to move forward with other deals.
I was a fan of Wingstop. I've been in love with their product for 4 or 5 years. They were rare to find ... in the middle of nowhere. When I was in Dallas, there were a lot of them ... but they weren't around in Florida. There's only one in Orlando right now. I wanted to bring more units to Orlando. I felt like it was a product that was up and coming; felt like it could become nationally recognized.
Are chicken wings part of the NBA diet these days?
Not at all! (He laughs.) That's a once-a-month treat these days. It's something that's addictive.
How difficult is it to balance the role of small-business owner with your NBA schedule?
That's tough. It took some insight knowing that I was going to hire the right point man and operating manager, George Taylor III, with experience in the restaurant industry.
Do you feel like a rookie in a second career right now?
Definitely. You have to listen to the veterans around you. I have hired veterans to teach me the restaurant business. It's really detailed. From frying the wings to selling the wings, to learning how to wash your hands ... I am just trying to soak up as much as possible.
Do you plan on integrating paraphernalia from your sports career into your Wingstop locations?
Maybe later on. [We are] in Orlando, so down the road, I'd like to integrate something with the Orlando Magic. I used to play for them. Maybe have a downtown location for Wingstop. Get Shaq, Penny [Hardaway] and Dwight Howard involved and have those guys in and do signings.
What morsel of advice would you offer to other NBA players who are thinking about buying into franchising?
Know your limit. Know what you can afford to lose. I came in knowing this could be a possible loss. I wanted to take all the right steps to be successful. As athletes, we hit a home run on the field and on the court ... it's not in restaurants. We can hire other people in the field -- the right people with the right expertise. My biggest advice is to know what your limit is; what you can risk, and to understand the building blocks to being successful.