July 03--Ker's WingHouse has new ownership, but the CEO of the private equity firm that closed on the sale Thursday said customers of its restaurants in Ocala and Gainesville shouldn't expect changes to the food, service or atmosphere.
Ken Jones of Third Lake Capital would not reveal terms of the deal but said Crawford Ker, the former Florida Gators and NFL offensive lineman who founded the chain, is staying on as CEO and current management is being retained.
"We are very excited about continuing to work with Crawford and to expand the brand he's built for 20 years," Jones said by phone Thursday afternoon. "He's done an incredible job, and we look forward to having him as our CEO going forward."
Jones said the new ownership is looking at expanding the chain within Florida and is considering expansion outside the state. He said he could offer no specifics about plans for growth in Marion or Alachua counties.
"We want to be sure we're not oversaturating a market or underserving a market," Jones said. "That evaluation is happening right now. I think the takeaway there is stay tuned. Everything customers have typically seen with the service, food quality and ambience is going to stay exactly the same."
Ker earned second-team All-SEC status with the Gators in 1984 and played in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos from 1985 to 1991. He founded the WingHouse in Largo in 1994. The chain's website touts its "World Famous WingHouse Girls" and states that the chain has 24 locations in Florida "with plans to grow into the rest of the Southeast."
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