Investor's success with NC restaurant chain leads to new venture

Investor's success with NC restaurant chain leads to new venture

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A real estate investor who also dealt in securities, Sam Ballas has transformed a financially strapped restaurant — albeit one with a marketable signature item — into one of the nation’s most highly acclaimed casual dining franchises.

East Coast Wings & Grill is growing. Thirty-eight locations are open in six states, including nearly a dozen in the Charlotte market and 31 across North Carolina, with another two slated to open before the end of the year at sites that are yet to be announced.

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And those restaurants generate revenue at a rate much higher than the industry average.

Ballas, 53, is the CEO and driver behind growing the franchise. So what’s next for him?

He spent some time pondering that question before finding an answer this year: forming ZorAbility, a new company with a name derived by adding the end of “franchisor” to “ability.”

ZorAbility’s first major product was the acquisition of a majority share in GetFried, a fledging French fry-selling concept with 11 locations. In the past few months, Ballas and his business partners have been reworking the concept — from scouting ideal locations to revamping the menu and the interiors.

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