Wingstop announced Thursday the opening of a slimmer, off-premises-only “restaurant of the future,” as it furthers its goal to digitize every transaction. 

The fast casual said the prototype “allows for rapid testing of new equipment and layouts and serves as a true innovation lab for unlimited flavor possibilities and enhanced guest experiences.” The 1,300-square-foot outlet, which is about 400 feet less than a typical restaurant, is based in a Dallas shopping center, not too far from Wingstop’s Global Support Center in Addison, Texas. 

“A glimpse into our Lovers Lane location is a glimpse into the future of Wingstopfocused on 100 percent digital transactions, seamless back of house operations, ongoing flavor innovation, and a business model centered around our fans, who love to dine off-premise with friends, while gaming, or just about anywhere you can think of,” Marisa Carona, chief growth officer, said in a statement. “We’re excited to continue optimizing the size and layout of our restaurants as we drive toward our vision of becoming a Top 10 Global Restaurant Brand.”

The location prioritizes carryout customers and delivery drivers, with a lobby area that doesn’t have dining tables and an “optimized back and front of house flow to create efficiencies for team members.”

[image source_ID=”131811″]Wokworks Food

The restaurant is cashless, and if customers didn’t order ahead, they can use a QR code to order inside the store. The prototype was also built with sustainability in mind, including Energy Star equipment, grease extraction, and Wingstop’s new uniform line that’s manufactured from recycled water bottles. 

CEO Charlie Morrison hinted in November that Wingstop is likely to move further in this direction. At the time, only 200 out of almost 1,500 U.S. dining rooms had reopened, leading the fast casual to believe it can reduce the size of its dining rooms and lean into its digital and delivery business. 

Digital sales represented 61.6 percent of sales in Q3, in line with last year’s mix. Delivery—which carries a higher average check—is accounting for 27.2 percent, almost three points better than 2020.

“I think our franchisees, as well as all of us corporately, feel like the digital side of our business is really what the long-term is all about, how can we create efficiencies inside the four walls of the restaurant to mitigate some of these challenges we’re seeing in the near-term on labor,” Morrison said.

And it’s not just Wingstop feeling the growing shift. For the entire restaurant industry, digital orders placed through an app or website grew 13 percent in 2021, compared to a 100 percent increase in 2020, according to the NPD Group. Delivery, which grew by triple digits over the past two years, increased visits by 17 percent year-over-year, lapping an 89 percent rise in 2020.  

Fast Casual, Growth, Story, Wingstop