Emerging Brands

5 things to know about: Atomic Wings

How the fast-casual chicken wing chain is preparing for growth amid the coronavirus crisis.
Atomic Wings CEO
Photo courtesy of Atomic Wings

Buzzworthy Brands is a bi-weekly Restaurant Business podcast and feature highlighting innovative growth brands. Listen to the conversation with Atomic Wings owner and CEO Zak Omar here. 

 

Atomic Wings began in 1989 in New York City, founded by Adam Lippin. Current owner and CEO Zak Omar joined the brand seven years ago, after becoming a multi-unit Dunkin’ franchisee about 15 years ago. When Omar joined, Atomic Wings had three brick-and-mortar stores and a number of co-branded units. The fast-casual wing chain currently has 11 units clustered in the Northeast, with 16 more stores in the development pipeline (10 of which have been signed during the pandemic).

Atomic Wings

 

  1. Atomic Wings doesn’t aspire to being Buffalo Wild Wings, Omar says. With its small-footprint stores (800-square-feet to 1,500-square-feet), the concept is ideally suited to takeout and delivery.
  2. Omar learned to hustle from his father, a refugee from Afghanistan who fled to the U.S. during the war with Russia. Omar’s father opened a fried chicken food truck on Wall Street in New York City, where a 12-year-old Omar would mix the sauces together to create interesting flavor combinations. “We want to be known as the flavor kings,” Omar says.
  3. The concept says it is well-suited to pandemic dining, with its small stores, tight labor model and focus on off-premise sales, Omar said. Some units are seeing a more than 100% increase in sales during the crisis.
  4. Omar’s experience as a franchisee has helped him as a franchisor. Franchisors need to be flexible, especially during times of stress, to help franchisees succeed. If they’re doing well, it’ll help the overall brand. Atomic Wings focuses on franchisee training to help set them up for success.
  5. Atomic Wings is getting ready for national growth, investing in its tech infrastructure and differentiating with fresh, hand-cut wings that are breaded in-house with an assortment of sauces.

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