Winging it Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2008

Thomas “Michael” Ansley was in his mid-20s when he and a friend decided to open a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise. The only problem was, with no restaurant experience, they were unable to get financing.

They forged ahead anyway, securing funding from their families and opened the first Michigan BWW franchise in 1996. With slow market acceptance and two years of losses, Ansley learned a lot about running a business, sold his interest to his partner and began his own company in 1999.

Today, as chairman, president and CEO of Diversified Restaurant Holdings Inc. and AMC Group Inc., those days of struggling are behind him. His restaurant management company operates 12 Buffalo Wild Wing locations and one Bagger Dave’s Legendary Burgers & Fries, a concept he developed. He continues to tailor his approach to each store according to demographics, location, trends and guest patterns, and he was the first owner to offer full service when the chain was primarily operating under a carryout or self-service model. Many of his loyal customers who had been dining with him since college now had kids in tow, and he responded by providing full service and separating the dining area and the bar at his Novi location, shooting the store to top sales the first year.

Ansley was named 2007 Franchisee of the Year by the International Franchise Association, and there’s no end in sight to his success. Over the next eight years, he plans to open 19 new BWW stores and as many as 25 new Bagger Dave’s locations.

HOW TO REACH: Diversified Restaurant Holdings Inc. and AMC Group Inc., (248) 223-9160