As published in the St. Louis Business Journal, November 18th, 2013 by E.B Solomont.
Is there a chicken war brewing?
Wing Zone, a restaurant concept based in Atlanta, is set to open its first St. Louis location next month, just weeks after Raising Cane’s debuted its first stand-alone store in the area, located in Des Peres less than a half mile from Chick-fil-A.
The Wing Zone restaurant will be located at 1643 S. Jefferson Ave., in a shopping center that was redeveloped by Green Street St. Louis for $8 million. (The Jefferson Commons shopping center is also home to a new Save-A-Lot, which opened last week.)
In an increasingly crowded chicken field, Wing Zone bills itself as a fast-casual, cook-to-order concept. Most of its business is takeout, but for customers who stay and eat, servers bring the food to their tables.
“People want the quality of a sit-down restaurant but want the value of a lower price,” said CEO Matt Friedman, who co-founded the company as a college student.
The average ticket price is $8 to $10 per meal.
Wing Zone currently has 90 locations, including 10 on military bases.
The St. Louis restaurant is owned by Roya Moshiri and her husband Monte Dover, who also own six Subway franchises in the area. The 1,500-square-foot restaurant is set to open Dec. 14, and Moshiri and Dover plan to open 10 locations in the area.
“This is a big deal for us,” Friedman said.
Franchisees pay the company an initial fee of $27,500 and 5 percent of sales in royalty payments. The typical start-up investment is $250,000, Friedman said. Last year, the average Wing Zone location generated $610,000 in revenue.
Wing Zone is “more than wings,” Friedman said. The chain has 17 proprietary flavors to season the chicken.
Friedman and Adam Scott in 1993 launched Wing Zone in the kitchen of their fraternity house at the University of Florida. In 2000, the company started growing through franchises.
As a company, Wing Zone did $45 million in total revenue last year.