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the-stand-tx-press-release-10-20-20-hero-jpg-1.jpg The Stand Restaurant
Norman Abdallah and Neil Billingsley-Michaelsen splan to open as many as 15 to 20 locations in the Lone Star State over the next five years.

Industry veterans to expand The Stand from California to Texas

Licensees Norman Abdallah and Neil Billingsley-Michaelsen plan to expand 8-unit fast-casual brand

Two longtime hospitality executives have licensed rights to The Stand, a fast-casual concept in Southern California, and plan to expand the brand to Texas, they said Tuesday.

Norman Abdallah and Neil Billingsley-Michaelsen said they plan to open as many as 15 to 20 locations in the Lone Star State over the next five years.

“Our agreement is for the entire state,” said Abdallah, the former CEO of Dallas-based Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, in an email. “We are starting with Dallas, then Houston.” He said the licensees have lined up two sites in Dallas.

His partner, Billingsley-Michaelsen, is CEO and president of Triple Tap Ventures LLC, an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema franchisee. Abdallah serves as chairman of their company, Buffalo 1942 LLC, and Billingsley-Michaelsen serves as CEO.

The Stand, founded in 2003, has eight locations across Southern California and two new sites in development.

“The food quality is on par with polished casual,” Abdallah said. “They have figured out how to execute. And because of this, their daypart mix is 50/50. Not many fast-casual brands do this.”

The Stand’s menu consists of made-to-order options from burgers to sandwiches to locally made sausages to a large selection of salads, sides and desserts. The company works with local producers as much as possible.

Jason Wishengrad, The Stand’s executive vice president who oversees culinary, said, “Particularly as we open the Texas market, we’re focused on working with local meat and produce suppliers, bakeries and breweries to ensure that local connection.”

Abdallah said he was impressed with The Stand’s positive same-store-sales growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Murray Wishengrad, The Stand’s founder and CEO, said in a statement: “We have one of the most diverse menus in the fast-casual category, giving our customers maximum flexibility in the occasions they visit and a variety of options to satisfy even the largest family or group.”

Abdallah said he was introduced to the concept by Andrew Jhawar, senior partner at Apollo Global Management, who is a majority shareholder in The Stand. Jhawar’s investment in the brand gave Abdallah confidence in expanding it, he said.

“They have proven versatility of size and areas you can enter,” Abdallah said. “Their smallest is 1,800 square feet and target is 3,500 square feet.”

Abdallah said he took a year off after the June 2019 sale of Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group Inc. to the private equity firm L Catterton, but he was looking forward to returning to the restaurant industry.

“I owe it to the industry that has made such a big impact on my life,” Abdallah said. “It tears me a part to see so many independents closing as they are the backbone of the industry.”

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

TAGS: Finance
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