We’re celebrating 25 years of Serving the World Flavor. That means it’s also a time to reflect on 25 years of hustle – all about the hard work and heart of our team that brought us where we are today. With us for much of the growth over the years, Phillip Maldonado, senior director of global training and innovation, has seen the brand grow from its humble beginnings to the multi-national franchise we are today.
“25 years of flavor means a lot to me. I feel a lot of pride in Wingstop’s growth, not only domestically, but internationally as well.” – Phillip Maldonado
Wigstop looked quite different when Phillip first started
When Phillip first started with Wingstop in 2001 nearly 18 years ago, we looked quite different. We were a small brand known mostly only in the Dallas and Garland areas of Texas. Phillip started in our corporate-owned location in Garland as one of four restaurant managers and assisted the small headquarters office a few doors down – which had only about 12 team members at the time, including our founder, Antonio Swad.
At that time, there were fewer wing flavors, smaller operating hours – we were only open from 4 p.m. to midnight – and only 25 restaurants. Recalling that time, he remembered thinking that eating only wings for dinner was a strange concept. But as our footprint grew and more and more households were exposed to our flavor, wings proved to be a worthy center-of-the-plate lunch and dinner food.
Phillip’s career trajectory with Wingstop
“I’m extremely proud of Wingstop and what we’ve done here. I don’t think any other brand anywhere can claim 15 years of consecutive same-store sales growth. It’s a really cool brand to work for.” – Phillip Maldonado
Phillip has taken on more responsibilities over the years, rising through the ranks to general manager, area manager, district manager and later joining the international team.
In his current role as senior director of global training and innovation, Phillip demonstrates entrepreneurialism by innovative solutions that take our domestic template and adapt it to outside markets. This involves overseeing all training materials, onboarding new international markets, and maintaining important related databases. Through it all, he enjoys interacting with our various brand partners from around the world, knowing he’s impacting their success.
Through the years, he’s seen Wingstop transform in many ways. What started as a small, single-owner company, later was acquired by large private equity groups, and then finally became a publicly traded company in 2015. Phillip witnessed it all and saw Wingstop’s rapid growth through the years.
Opening Wingstop Sports in Las Vegas and Mexico
One of Phillip’s favorite projects he worked on involved the opening of a new concept for Wingstop in Las Vegas in 2013, Wingstop Sports. This concept takes the traditional, primarily counter-serve Wingstop layout and expands the dine-in occasion. Offering more seating, a full-service bar, an expanded menu and more flat screen TVs, the new layout proved successful in large part to Phillip’s contributions. Additionally, Phillip later worked on the team that brought the innovative design to Wingstop Mexico.
Through the process, he assisted in nearly every aspect of these openings, even developing the expanded menu alongside our chef at the time, Sean Murphy. In addition, he was heavily involved in the training, operations and development for these locations.
Bringing Wingstop to international markets
Besides his work with Mexico, Phillip has worked with each international market we’ve expanded into thus far. As his job involves preparing these countries for our flavor, he works hard to ensure teams are trained and the quality of their food is up to our standards. Other countries he’s worked with include Panama, Colombia, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and France – which is currently working toward their first opening. No matter where he goes, though, Phillip finds fans of our flavor.
He noticed during his travels that whenever and wherever he’s traveled while wearing Wingstop-logoed attire, he gets someone’s attention. Invariably, that person will point out their love for Wingstop and talk about their favorite flavor with true passion. “It happened to me in an airport in Singapore, and it happens everywhere I go,” he said. “I don’t think other brands can say they see this kind of passion from their guests.”