Franchise chain co-founder Matt Friedman said the restaurant, located at 4490 South Cobb Drive in the former Carvel Ice Cream location, near the East-West Connector in Smyrna, was a $300,000 project. They have hired 35 full- and part-time employees and plan to add five more jobs.
The 1,700-square-foot restaurant opened in September, with a grand opening last Saturday.
The 48-seat eatery will be used as a training facility for future restaurants, including non-traditional locations such as Army and Air Force Exchange Service restaurants; as well as domestic and international franchisees. Acworth-based Warner Architectural Associates was the architect.
It is the company’s third location in Cobb, after the original restaurant on Powers Ferry Road and another on Cherokee Street in Kennesaw.
Friedman said the company chose the Smyrna location for the flagship restaurant because of its diverse mix of residential and business population.
“We wanted a market that had a good daytime and evening population, with proximity to the corporate office, and that would be able to be duplicated anywhere in the country,” he said.
Wing Zone moved its 15 corporate office employees from Gainesville, Fla., to the Galleria area in 2001.
Friedman said the Smyrna location is the chain’s first new restaurant in Atlanta in seven years.
“There are a couple of things beneficial to opening a business right now,” he said. “There is a hungry work force, and there are great deals on real estate. Four or five years ago, this project would have cost us $50,000 dollars more.”
The company did not receive any tax incentives from the city of Smyrna.
Friedman said this is the first wing-based restaurant chain to offer a drive-through window. He says they are also testing the company’s first digital menu board that can be changed remotely anytime. Friedman says though they have two televisions in the restaurant and serve beer and wine, they do not brand themselves as a sports bar like Wild Wing Café located on Roswell Road in Marietta.
He said Wing Zone has 100 franchise locations across the U.S. and eight international restaurants including Panama, Bahamas, and Saudi Arabia locations. Restaurants in Malaysia and Dubai are scheduled to open in 2012.
Friedman co-founded the company with Adam Scott in their University of Florida fraternity kitchen in 1991 while the two were still students. Friedman says they delivered the wings and homemade sauces all over the campus. The company began offering franchises in 2000 and then relocated to Cobb, off Circle 75 Parkway to be more centrally located while they expanded the business model.
Friedman says Wingstop, which recently opened a location on Chastain Road near Kennesaw State University, would be the company’s closest competitor in the industry.