Wingstop to test sports-themed restaurant

Wingstop is testing a new fast casual concept in Brownsville, Texas, called Wingstop Sports. The restaurant, set to open around Thanksgiving, will have inside and outside seating for about 98 people and will offer everything on the regular Wingstop menu, plus appetizers, salads, sandwiches, dessert, beer and wine.

Burgers, however, will not be on the menu, said Bill Knight, Wingstop's COO.

"We think we are good at poultry, so everything will be based around that; Wingstop Sports is basically a Wingstop with an enhanced menu," he said.

A franchisee, who already owns traditional Wingstop locations, will operate the sports-themed restaurant covering about 2,800 square feet. Most Wingstop stores are about 1,500 square feet. The new restaurant also will have 10 high-definition televisions, as opposed to the two TVs found in standard locations. During sporting events, those TVS will be turned up but will be on mute when games aren't being aired.

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"This isn't a bar; we're not trying to be a Buffalo Wild Wings, but we obviously don't want to compete with ourselves either," Knight said. "It's a fun, friendly setting where families and sports fans can enjoy good food, watch games and have a beer or two," Knight said.

Although Wingstop Sports doesn't want to be "only a bar," Knight said it does expect to sell more alcohol than the standard Wingstop locations.

"At a traditional store, sales are between 1 to 2 percent alcohol; we want to inch that up to around 6 to 10 percent," said Knight, who pointed out that the décor will include a small area with high tables to indicate a bar-like setting.

Kathy Diamond Design Associates, an architecture firm that has worked with Taco John's and Mazzio's, helped Wingstop create its "comfortable, fun atmosphere." Knight is hoping the look as well as the enhanced menu will inspire customers to dine in more often. At a traditional Wingstop, about 75 percent of sales are from carryout orders; Knight expects that number to fall to 40 percent at the new concept. A separate take out counter, however, will serve carryout customers.

Another difference between a traditional Wingstop and the new concept is how customers receive their food. Although they will order at the counter as they do in a standard Wingstop, employees will deliver food to tables instead of having the customer pick it up at the counter.

The growth plan

Knight admitted that a second Wingstop Sports may be on the agenda in Texas if the first store does well, and he was adamant that the company has no plans of changing over its traditional locations to the new concept.

"This is a limited test," he said. "We'll assess it once we get a couple open, but there are no plans past the two. This may end up working in smaller markets, but we are being conservative. It all sounds good but the customer always validates things."

New menu items include:

  • Mozzerella sticks
  • Chicken quesadillas
  • Fried green beans
  • Club or Caesar salads
  • Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
  • Chicken Fajita Wraps
  • Chicken Melt Sandwich
  • Mango Margarita (made with wine, not liquor)
  • And three desserts, the Chocolate Chocolate Brownie, Cheesecake and Key Lime Pie.

Read more about restaurant layout and design.

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