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Mike Rosenberger
Jax Daily Record Friday, Sep. 2, 201612:00 PM EST

Dick's Wings founder launches new food chain: Mack's Tenders

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The founder of Dick’s Wings and Grill has started another food chain that focuses on another part of the chicken.

Mike Rosenberger, who created Dick’s Wings and sold his interest in 2013, has launched Mack’s Tenders On-the-Go featuring one main item — freshly cooked chicken tenders.

“The whole idea is quickness, affordability and quality,” Rosenberger said Thursday.

Rosenberger, who has been in the food and hospitality business for 50 years, said he was familiar with the tenders concept known through chains such as Louisiana-based Raising Cain’s Chicken Fingers.

He added a point of difference for Mack’s — a “Flavor Coop” of 30 sauces.

The targeted customer is the working family, who can eat in or “get it to go and go home.”

Development manager Alex Hildenbrandt said Rosenberger recognized the hurdles facing the chicken niche of the fast-food industry and designed Mack’s Tenders On-the-Go around them.

Mackstenders.com said the limited menu allows the company to focus on quality and convenience. It offers fried or grilled tenders — that are never frozen chicken tenderloins — along with the 30 sauces.

The menu shows four side dishes — waffle fries, sweet potato tots, slaw and Texas toast, and Rosenberger added sweet and sour pickles.

As the founder, owner and operator of Mack’s, Rosenberger and his team expect to open two locations in Jacksonville by year-end and then expand.

The first is expected to open in a few weeks in Mandarin at the Gates of Olde Mandarin at 11362 San Jose Blvd. Rosenberger said a franchisee is lined up for that.

A second is planned at the Shoppes at Flagler Center at 14866 Old St. Augustine Road and is available for franchising. That might open in a few months.

The stores should average about 1,200 to 1,400 square feet and seat 20-25 customers. Each store should need up to three employees at any time.

Operating hours will be roughly 10 a.m.-10 p.m., tailored to the location. Franchisees will have the option to open on Sunday, Rosenberger said.

Mack’s Tenders also looks for center spots in strip centers, which Rosenberger said typically are the last to be leased.

That way, he said he can get a good deal in new centers in growth locations.

He wants to open another eight restaurants by the end of 2017 and double each year after. The initial focus is east of the Mississippi River.

One city of interest is Detroit, where a franchisee could qualify for grants to rebuild, he said.

Rosenberger said franchises are designed to be conducive for ownership by families or others without experience to get into the restaurant business.

The cost is $35,000 with a 50 percent discount to $17,500 for military veterans.

Total opening costs are expected to be $100,000 to $200,000.

Starting this month, the company will start marketing nationwide, including seeking interest from owners of other franchises who want to expand their portfolio.

While the Macktenders.com website lists several Jacksonville locations, Hildenbrandt said that preliminary information was being updated.

Hildenbrandt and Rosenberger said the 2158-7 Mayport Road location in Atlantic Beach opened as a Mack’s Tenders but was converted several months later to Bukkets Wings & Grill.

Rosenberger also owns the Bukkets concept, which has been in Jacksonville since 1989. The prominent Jacksonville Beach location, which had been sold to other owners, closed a few years ago.

He anticipates opening more Bukkets and franchising those, too.

Rosenberger focused on chicken wings in growing the Dick’s Wings franchise chain, which he started in 1996.

He sold his shares in that company, American Restaurant Concepts, in July 2013. ARC Group Inc., now based in Lafayette, La., reports there are 22 Dick’s Wings in Florida and Georgia.

After a two-year noncompete, during which he owned a steakhouse in Montana, Rosenberger was ready for a new venture in Jacksonville.

Mack’s isn’t named after anyone, although Rosenberger fondly recalls his “Uncle Mack, a crusty old guy” who lived in Alabama.

The logo’s color scheme is what Hildenbrandt calls a “french fry” yellow and royal purple.

“They are clean colors. I wanted them to reflect something fresh and comfortable,” Rosenberger said.

Restaurant notes

• The Great American Bagel intends to open in the main terminal at Jacksonville International Airport. It already operates in airports in Miami, Tampa and Fort Myers as well as other airports and locations worldwide.

• McDonald’s wants to build a 90-seat restaurant on 1.1 acres at Duval Station along Lady Lake Road.

[email protected]

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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