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Wing Zone to put robots in all new restaurants

The 61-unit chicken chain is deepening its partnership with Miso Robotics, the maker of automated fry cook Flippy, as it ramps up growth.
Wing Zone rendering
A rendering of a new Wing Zone store. / Image courtesy of Wing Zone

Wing Zone is designing its new restaurants with robots in mind.

The 61-unit wing chain said Wednesday that it is expanding its partnership with Miso Robotics, the maker of Flippy, to make the automated fry cook a standard feature in all future stores.

That includes the more than 100 locations in Wing Zone’s development pipeline, marking a big step-up in adoption for Flippy as restaurants continue to deal with smaller staffs and rising costs.

“Our industry is in dire need of automation, and we are more than ready to deploy it at scale to continue growing our business,” said David Bloom, Wing Zone’s chief development and operating officer, in a statement.

Technology has been a big part of Wing Zone’s expansion plans since being acquired by Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop in January 2021. Later that year, it announced that it was pursuing a new wing-cooking process, self-ordering kiosks and even a special scent for its stores as it prepared for growth. 

Flippy has become the face of those plans. The chain has been testing the AI-powered robot arm in the last step of the wing-frying process, and earlier this month, it doubled down with the launch of Wing Zone Labs, a new franchisee that will work on developing fully automated Wing Zones. The partnership between Wing Zone and Wavemaker Labs, a tech incubator with ties to Miso, has a deal to open 20 restaurants in Southern California.

Flippy has seen increasing adoption at restaurants over the past two years. White Castle, Chipotle and Jack in the Box are all using the robot or have announced plans to do so. But Wing Zone has emerged as one of Miso’s premier partners. 

“We couldn’t be more excited to announce a truly groundbreaking partnership with Wing Zone to incorporate back-of-house automation into all of its future restaurants from this point forward,” said Miso CEO Mike Bell in a statement. “No other brand has accepted automation to this degree, and we don’t take their trust in us lightly.”

The bot slated for new Wing Zones is called Flippy 2, which handles more tasks than its predecessor. 

Founded in 1993, Wing Zone has historically offered a broad menu of wings, burgers, apps and salads. But it has been reimagined under Capriotti’s as a tech-forward, wing-centric brand in the mold of Wingstop. Its footprint is split evenly between domestic and international markets, but its future development is focused primarily on the U.S.

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