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America's Fastest-Growing Wing Chain Opened Its First Ghost Kitchen In This Major City

Only the first step of a major expansion plan.

Wingstop is putting its major popularity to the test in one of the most competitive restaurant markets. The rapidly-growing chicken wing chain just opened its first ghost kitchen location in Manhattan, breaking ground in none other than busy Times Square.

This past July, the brand announced its metropolitan dream: take on the Big Apple by adding more than 20 Manhattan locations over the course of the next three years. The locations will be a mix of traditional brick-and-mortar dining rooms and ghost kitchens. This first Times Square opening is a ghost kitchen, which makes sense considering both the high real estate cost and the small amount of available space in the area. The chain already has two brick-and-mortars in Upper Manhattan and locations in other New York City boroughs.

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Wingstop is hoping its "Manhattan moment" will help to continue, if not accelerate, the successful track they are already on. The chain, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, has been expanding for 17 consecutive years, and its last four earnings quarters set records in terms of development. In Q3 of 2021, they opened 49 new restaurants, and in 2020 they netted out 153 new restaurants total—bringing them up to about 1,500 stores nationwide. At this rate, it's only a matter of time before there's a Wingstop within driving distance anywhere in the country.

What's the secret sauce behind Wingstop's success? It could be the 11 different wing flavors they have expertly crafted, which are made-to-order based on customer preference. It could be their legendary, thick-cut, seasoned fries. Or maybe the secret is quite literally the sauce: as any Wingstop fan knows, the freshly-made ranch and bleu cheese dips are in a league of their own.

Whatever it is, it's working. Wingstop created a foolproof playbook overseas in their U.K. market, opening the first ghost kitchen there in June of 2020 and building that business to be even more profitable than their domestic dealings. They plan to conquer New York City using similar tactics. After that? The brand has its heart set on San Francisco. Buckle up, metropolises of America—wings of 11 different flavors are coming for you.

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Kaley Roberts
Kaley Roberts is a food writer. Read more about Kaley