The first year of a restaurant’s existence — when it develops a client base and identity in the community — is typically its most difficult.
But there must be something in the milkshakes or Mexican street corn at Gator BTW (Burgers, Tacos and Wings) that’s helping it break that mold.
The fast-casual eatery has had success since it opened in February, almost exactly a year after Burrito Brothers closed its doors at the same 1402 W. University Ave. location.
Since opening, Gator BTW has pulled in 25 percent more revenue than expected. In fact, there are already plans for a second location by the intersection of Northwest 39th Avenue and Northwest 83rd Street.
The restaurant ran advertisements referring to itself as Hurricane BTW, but Freddie Wehbe, marketing and branding consultant for the restaurant, doesn’t think the name is compatible with the location.
“I made the decision from a marketing aspect that hurricane and Gainesville don’t go together,” Wehbe said.
The new Gator BTW will feature increased seating, a larger bar and a patio area out front. According to Wehbe, the idea is to create a sit-down, family-friendly environment as opposed to the walk-in, student-targeted concept the first location used.
The second location will also have a critical quality that the current one lacks: places to park.
“There’s no parking at all,” Gator BTW manager Daniel Fitzgerald said.
Wehbe believes that if customers are having trouble coming to Gator BTW, then the restaurant will come to them in the form of the new location.
“If the demand is there, we’re business people, we’ll open it,” Wehbe said.
Wehbe, who was contracted from the Gainesville-based consulting firm Make It Happen, said the demand for a Gator BTW in the northwest area of the city is very high.
He used a website called SurveyMonkey to send out surveys to people living in Alachua County to gauge their interest. He also used data from the restaurant’s most popular delivery mediums, BiteSquad and Uber Eats.
He expects that having a Gator BTW in a residential area like northwest Gainesville will help the eatery avoid a summer slump. Currently, the restaurant is experiencing a 35 percent decrease in its revenue since the Spring semester ended, five points lower than Wehbe’s expected drop.
“It’s a simple statistic. Nine out of 10 restaurants won’t make it in five years,” Wehbe said. “We want to be part of the 10 percent.”