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Wing Zone’s newest franchisee is focused on robots

The wing chain is creating Wing Zone Labs with the product development incubator behind restaurant robots like Flippy and Chippy, with the goal of fully automating its stores.
Wing Zone
Photo courtesy of Wing Zone

Wing Zone is taking a step toward fully automating some of its restaurants.

The wing chain, which last year started testing robotic fry cooks, announced a partnership Tuesday with product development incubator Wavemaker Labs to create Wing Zone Labs, a new franchisee that will focus on automation.

Wavemaker Labs was founded by Buck Jordan, who is also a co-founder of Miso Robotics—the maker of several restaurant robots, including Flippy, Flippy 2, Sippy and Chippy, which is currently being tested as a tortilla chip cook by Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Wing Zone Labs has signed a development agreement to open 20 restaurants in Southern California.

“At Wing Zone, we live by the motto ‘flavor really fast,’ and this partnership will help us deliver on that promise to our customers,” David Bloom, Wing Zone’s chief development and operating officer, said in a statement. “Bringing in an innovation juggernaut like Wavemaker Labs to not only establish a one-of-a-kind franchisee but also help expand the use of tech and automation within our company is a huge step for us in our quest to create the franchise of the future.”

Wing Zone Labs plans to open its first location this year, employing Flippy 2 to fry chicken wings and other items. The franchisee intends to “fully automate” its stores in the future, the chain said in a statement.

Wing Zone, which was acquired early last year by Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, said previously that it was testing Flippy in its company stores, while also moving toward a cashier-less system. The cooked-to-order wing chain currently has 31 North American locations and 30 international units.

“Partnering closely with Wing Zone is a huge opportunity to be part of an incredible brand and showcase our technology at scale,” Kevin Morris, president of Wavemaker Labs and CFO of Miso Robotics, said in a statement. “As a franchisee, we will also be able to evaluate and test new software and hardware in real restaurant environments to seamlessly integrate across locations.

Wing Zone Labs is looking to raise up to $10 million in seed capital via an equity crowdfunding site, the company said.

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