Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux
Cory and Jenny Davis never expected to become restaurant owners. As a former oil & gas landman and award-winning journalist, the couple had limited restaurant experience, but they say God’s hand and their unwavering commitment changed all of that.
The couple became fans of Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux during the three years they lived in Lafayette, Louisiana. They fell in love with the unique family-friendly sports bar atmosphere, scratch-cooking and great service. Yet, it was a serendipitous conversation between Cory and a sugar cane farmer that led to the couple meeting directly with the Franchise Founder and CEO, Brandon Landry.
After meeting the corporate team, the Davis’s took the leap with the goal of bringing Walk-On’s to the place of the ultimate walk-on – the Home of the 12th Man – with a location in College Station, Texas. Cory and Jenny are both Aggies, while Cory is a former walk-on to the Texas A&M Football Team.
At the beginning of the project, the couple envisioned leasing from a developer. Over the period of two years, they met with four different developers, all of which would eventually back out of the deal.
“Even after all that happened, we weren’t going to quit," said Cory. "That’s when we decided we weren’t going to go the developer route anymore. This was a huge project and a huge expense, and we knew we were going to need help."
The couple was introduced to Brazos Valley Small Business Development Center (SBDC) advisor Jim Pillans. With the help of Pillans, the couple formed a business plan and financial projections to apply for a bank loan.
“Ultimately, Jim was the one who introduced us to the bank where we got the loan," said Cory. "The SBDC was a huge help and the staff’s patience and willingness to assist us impressed Jenny. The SBDC never gave up; they were very patient. They were always there for us every step of the way."
The couple’s determination was rewarded when Walk-On’s #36 opened in south College Station, followed by a grand ribbon-cutting event in March 2021.
The restaurant has 56 full-time employees,100 part-time employees and business is thriving. It has since expanded by adding two concession stands and suite catering at Kyle Field for Aggie Football, and a concession stand in Olsen Field for Aggie Baseball, providing burgers for College Station High School’s sporting events.
“To go from playing on Kyle Field and eating team meals to being their caterer, it has gone full-circle and we absolutely love it,” Cory said. “We continue to do our best, whether it’s catering for 20 or 600 people. We take opportunities as they come and create paths along the way to build on what we’ve accomplished.”
Walk-On’s College Station has the honor of being the only training location in Texas, meaning that the focus on solid operations and love for the guest that Cory and Jenny pour into their team is imprinted upon other managers for upcoming Walk-On’s restaurants across Texas.
Currently, they have managers from The Colony (Dallas), Baytown, and San Antonio for their 8-week hands-on training program. In 2022, the corporate team bestowed the “Culture Keeper” award to Cory and Jenny. The award is coveted, not easy to attain, and chosen by the corporate team for putting team before self and embodying the heart of a walk-on.
The Davis’s believe in giving back. From chamber of commerce, an A&M athletics partnership, school sponsorships, local dance, sports team sponsorships, church contributions, fellowship of Christian athletes and many other charities, they are believers that Walk-On’s is much more than a restaurant.
“We love giving back to the community," said Jenny. "It’s fulfilling to just dive in, get involved and hopefully, leave it a bit better because you cared.”
When asked of their advice to others considering starting their own business, they were happy to share. “Go for it,” Cory said. “If you truly feel passionate and believe it will succeed, I say go for it all day. Especially now knowing the kind of resources you can get behind you."
After a thoughtful moment, Jenny shared her advice, hoping to inspire others to not give up. “Do your homework. Know what you’re getting into. Ask yourself... how much do you love that service/product, and is it needed where you’re going to put it. Some of this I say in hindsight, as I wish we had known more and met Jim Pillans earlier. Find those resources. Do your homework and keep your faith."
You can visit Walk-On’s College Station at 4320 Texas 6 Frontage Road in College Station or on the web at https://walk-ons.com. Walk-On’s College Station is also on Facebook at @WalkOnsCollegeStation.