Every hero has an origin story, and since ours in the 90s, our flavor has truly been heroic. In a couple weeks, we’re celebrating our 25th anniversary. After all, a quarter of a century is a BIG deal and Wingstop has gone through many changes over the years. See below for the 411 on where it all started.
The First Wingstop Opened in Garland, Texas, in 1994
Citizens of Garland, Texas, finally got the hero they deserved when Wingstop opened its doors on July 5, 1994. Before then, they didn’t get the chance to witness the bomb taste of our uncompromising flavor. It’s our super power we use to fight crime the bland, flavorless food options out there.
The first Wingstop was only open from 4 p.m. to midnight. It wasn’t until 2005 that we opened for lunch, and today most locations operate from 11 a.m. to midnight. Working long, tireless hours, the Wing Experts assembled from only a handful of dedicated, special individuals. From their start grew a formidable ensemble with diverse skills. In 1997, the first franchised Wingstop opened, and the brand quickly grew locally, then across the U.S. and eventually internationally. Today, there are more than 1,250 restaurants worldwide!
Wingstop’s crib was sort of like a bat cave, a little dark and mysterious, but full of excitement and swarming with wings. Neon signs out front announced “Hot Wings To Go,” as carryout orders offered that super speed and convenience guests required. Additionally, each restaurant had the famous aviation theme, decorative plane parts selected from junk yards by a crew of clever flavor henchmen. It wasn’t until recent years, that restaurants were updated to a brighter, more modern aesthetic that is continuing to evolve with new tech and a sleeker look.
Antonio Swad Founded Wingstop Back in the Day
If he were to have a super hero name, our founder Antonio Swad might be called “Wingman.” His powers would include super entrepreneurialism, the telepathic ability to induce crave, and bullet-proof flavor. He was also super fly.
Antonio studied the restaurant industry most of his life and started his career at 15 years old as a dishwasher. But he first entered the restaurant owner space in 1986 with a carryout pizza concept. Later, with the goal to differentiate from a heavily-saturated pizza landscape, he entered the wing business, which was a largely under-represented segment. He first started by giving out wing samples at his pizza restaurant, but eventually pioneered wings as a center-of-the-plate food, thwarting the villainous idea that they were just a side or appetizer.
The Wingstop Menu Has Grown, but Flavor Remains “All That”
POW! The flavor hit the masses right in the mouth. From the beginning, Wingstop restaurants were small, wing-centric places loaded with flavor. With almost immediate success, Wingstop proved to be special. With made to order wings that were always sauced-and-tossed by hand along with hand-cut, seasoned fries, the concept took off. Like a bird, or a plane, or… you get it.
In the beginning days, we only served eight flavors, not the 11 we’re known for today. They were Lemon Pepper, Original Hot – the first sauced-and-tossed – Cajun, Atomic, Mild, Hawaiian BBQ, Teriyaki and Garlic Parmesan. They were – and are – all that and a bag of chips. Since then, we’ve added to the roster over the years, and have even offered several limited time offer flavors.
Though some things have changed over the years, our hero’s catchphrase and mission to “Serve the World Flavor” lives on. It encompasses who we are and what we stand for, but most of all, establishes our flavor as the hero it is. After all, with great flavor comes great responsibility.
We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about Wingstop’s origin story from back in the day. Keep checking Wingsider for more stories as we celebrate our 25th anniversary through the month of July, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for social coverage.
Peace out! –Wingstop