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jCarbonara
Joe Carbonara

Excellence in Experience

In addition to projecting slow but real growth for the foodservice industry in 2018, The NPD Group outlined a handful of attributes that will affect the way consumers use foodservice. Specifically, NPD predicts consumers will remain strapped for time, embrace digital ordering even more and strive to develop a closer relationship with their couches.

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jMartinez
Juan Martinez

Eye on Efficiency

If your new year’s resolution has fallen by the wayside not that the calendar has turned to February, never fear. It is always a good time to explore new experiences and new opportunities to make a difference in the foodservice industry.

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jStiegler
Jerry Stiegler

Restaurant Sales Flat in January, Sales Growth Among Largest Chains Slowed, and the Number of U.S. Restaurants Dipped

U.S. retail sales declined in January while restaurant sales were flat. Rising government price indexes raise fears of higher inflation and interest rates. Technomic reports sales growth among the 500 largest restaurant chains slowed for the second consecutive year. The number of restaurants in the U.S. declined last year. These stories and whole lot more This Week in Foodservice.

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Wing Stop is flying high with a concept that does 75 percent to 80 percent of its sales in takeout and 92 percent from three items — wings, fries and beverages — out of kitchens that measure 600 sq. ft.

Wing StopThat model, says CEO Jim Flynn, hasn't left a lot of room — or need — for change. But select strategic moves during the past few years have helped keep the company on a growth track. First, Wing Stop expanded its hours from dinner only to lunch, which now makes up 20 percent to 30 percent of sales. Second, it added boneless wings, which now comprise 20 percent of wing sales.

Wing Stop is now shaking things up with Gliders, its first-ever sandwich product. Presented as a 90-day limited time offer, Gliders are 3-oz. portions of boneless chicken breast meat coated in seasoned breading, fried and served on a fresh-baked yeast roll with pickles. They can be served plain or tossed in any of Wingstop's sauces and can be ordered a la carte in two, four or six sandwiches per order, as well as in a two-piece Glider Combo with fries and drink.

"In tests we found that a sandwich was more friendly than wings to a lot of customers who otherwise might represent a veto vote," Flynn says. "And it's better for lunch for many people than wings. If it goes well, we'll likely add it to the menu." Prepared in the same fryers as wings, no new equipment was needed to launch the Gliders, he adds.

And there's more in store. The chain plans to add wraps, twister-style fries and salads, as well as a new concept prototype. "We're in the process of testing two or three new Wingstop Sports restaurants," Flynn says. "They're about 2,400 sq. ft. compared to our typical 1,500-sq.-ft. Wingstop unit. It's a way to extend the brand that we think makes a lot of sense."

Fast Facts

  • Year founded: 1994
  • Headquarters: Richardson, Texas
  • Menu specialties: Fresh, made-to-order wings with nine proprietary sauces, fresh-cut fries
  • Service model: Fast-casual
  • Service options: Dine in, takeout
  • Units: 480 in the U.S. and Mexico (95 percent are franchised)
  • 2010 sales: $344 million
  • 2010 growth: Revenue increased by 8.9 percent and the number of units grew by 8 percent
  • 2011 projected growth: Increase revenue by 8 percent, units by 10 percent
  • Key expansion markets: Nationwide, with a focus on Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Midwest
  • Typical location: In-line shopping centers
  • Average unit size: 1,600 sq. ft.; 20–40 seats
  • Average kitchen space: 600 sq. ft.
  • Average covers per day: 300
  • Average check: $14
  • Total equipment investment per unit: $73,000–$128,500 (not including POS system)
  • Total unit cost: $263,550–$616,946 (includes franchise fee, equipment, etc.)

Key Players

  • Chief Executive Officer: Jim Flynn
  • Chief Operating Officer: Bill Knight
  • Chief Marketing Officer and EVP of Purchasing/R&D: Andy Howard
  • Chief Development Officer: Wes Jablonski
  • Chief Financial Officer: Lance Loshelder
  • Smallwares & Equipment Dealers: Tri-Mark Raygal and Concept Services
  • Food Distributors: Peco, Pilgrim's, Wada Farms
  • Architect: John B. McDonald, AIA
  • Design: Kathy Diamond Design Associates

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