Wingstop announced plans in July to develop the Manhattan, New York, area in a company-owned strategy that includes an asset mix of traditional locations and ghost kitchens, with more than 20 upcoming openings over the course of three years. The brand believes its entrance into Manhattan presents an opportunity to invest capital and deliver great returns for shareholders by participating in Wingstop's best-in-class unit economics.
"The opening of Manhattan builds upon our strong development pipeline that has delivered record setting development each quarter in 2021," says Wingstop CEO and chairman Charlie Morrison. "With the combination of ghost kitchens and traditional locations in Manhattan, we're following a proven playbook similar to our U.K. market, which now has AUVs at more than two million dollars, surpassing our domestic average."
With the launch of Wingstop's first ghost kitchen in the U.K. in June 2020, the brand has seen promising results throughout its ghost kitchen portfolio. Ghost kitchens create an opportunity to penetrate areas with high real estate costs or lower inventory of retail space.
The success experienced in the UK serves as fuel as the brand looks to replicate the archetype strategy in markets outside of Manhattan, including San Francisco, where Wingstop has an existing, small high street presence and one ghost kitchen.
Wingstop's entry into Manhattan follows four record quarters for development—with 49 net new restaurants in Q3 2021—as well as an all-time high development year in 2020 with 153 net new restaurants and more than 700 restaurants commitments from brand partners.