Officials of Wing Zone, the chicken-wing chain based in Atlanta, are hoping that the addition of drive-thru windows to the brand’s restaurants will help sales soar.
Wing Zone opened the chain’s first drive-thru facility July 8 at an outlet in Cumming, Ga. — the first chicken-wing restaurant in the country to offer such an amenity, executives claim.
Matt Friedman, chief executive of the 83-unit Wing Zone, said it has taken 18 months to unveil the drive-thru, and he expects the new concept will increase annual unit volumes by $250,000 to $400,000 a year per unit.
The average Wing Zone unit currently generates between $600,000 and $625,000 annually.
“Our vision when we developed the drive-thru concept was having quality food at a hot temperature in a reasonable time,” Friedman said.
He noted the service time during Friday’s debut was less than three minutes per transaction.
“We’ll continue to improve it,” he said.
More Wing Zone locations featuring the drive-thru windows are coming, he said. One will open in Savannah, Ga., this summer and a second is set for Atlanta in the autumn.
A freestanding Wing Zone building without the land costs $350,000 to $400,000 to construct, while a conversion of an existing building into a drive-thru facility costs $200,000 to $250,000, Friedman said.
The just-opened drive-thru is located in a converted building, while the next two will be built from the ground up.
The freestanding buildings with the drive-thru capacity allow Wing Zone to beef up its marketing and exposure, especially in Atlanta where Wing Zone does not have market share, Friedman said. Wing Zone locations are usually sited in shopping centers, he noted.
“When you get freestanding buildings, you get more exposure than being in a shopping center,” Friedman said.
Wing Zone is looking for buildings to convert that are 20-years old or less and have 1,000 square feet to 2,000 square feet, he said.
Matt Friedman, a 1993 University of Florida graduate who created Wing Zone in 1991 with a business partner in his UF fraternity kitchen, said Wing Zone has 83 stores in 15 states, including two owned by the company. The average ticket is $16.