Entrepreneurial Success While Carefully Winging It
Wingstop named Medium Business of the Year
by Barbara Holl
Nacogdoches County Chamber
The Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce has named Wingstop as the 2014 Medium Business of the Year - one of three Gary Justice Business Excellence Awards presented annually. The business owners and employees will be recognized at the chamber’s 93rd Annual Meeting and Membership Banquet, Tuesday, Sept. 30, beginning at 6 p.m. in the SFA Grand Ballroom
Wingstop Restaurant #362 opened its doors in December 2007 with franchise owner/operator Cassandra Stokes at the helm. "I live by the philosophy that my restaurant should not only provide great food, but always look fresh and inviting," Stokes said. In 2010, she tackled a major remodel to freshen up the restaurant, located at Stallings Drive and North Street.
This year, she is expanding the footprint from 1,600 square feet to more than 2,900 square feet. This expansion increases seating capacity from 42 to 110. Wingstop has also grown its workforce - from 12 to 21 employees. Nacogdoches Wingstop now earns a million dollars in revenue per year and provides more than $300,000 per year in payroll.
While she was growing Wingstop, Stokes also opened Newk's, another popular eatery on North Street.
Wingstop is a quick casual-style restaurant. The food is cooked to order, providing the customer with a meal in 15 to 24 minutes. This is possible through heavy prep done before the restaurant opens each morning. Wingstop uses only fresh chicken, serving 364,000 "bone-in" wings and 429,000 "boneless and strips" wings per year to its hungry customers.
Raving fan Dr. Norjaun Austin is a frequent customer. "To my mind," he said, " the genuine sense of care for our community separates this establishment from the typical business, which seeks only to profit. Instead, the management team of Wingstop in Nacogdoches is mindful of their situation within a decent and strategically ordered community. The food is excellent, the atmosphere clean, and the staff are friendly and respectful. I return weekly for the atmosphere. Specifically, owner Cassandra Stokes radiates a depth, strength, and a sense of civic responsibility that we should demand of all East Texas businesses owners. We are all smarter and well represented by Wingstop Nacogdoches, and I hope we are continually encouraged to patronize any and all business and civic endeavors Cassandra Stokes may undertake in the future."
Stokes credits Wingstop's success to great employees. "I look to hire happy, friendly people who want to work. Nacogdoches is a friendly place so I want my employees to reflect that." she said. Wingstop provides great corporate support to their franchise owners. "With the expansion, I have hired more employees and the corporate office sends trainers to help get the new staff trained," she said. Stokes also believes in providing Wingstop customers good food, great value and friendly hospitality.
"Cassandra Stokes has a background both in hospitality and the military," said Francis Spruiell, president of Austin Bank. "She operates her business the correct way, and there is no doubt that this background and her commitment to persevere have contributed to her continual success! I am so thrilled that Cassandra has this opportunity to shine, since she is one that never looks for recognition but always goes the extra mile for family, friends, employees and for the community of Nacogdoches. I am honored to be her friend!"
The Wingstop goal is "To get and keep the guest." Stokes strives daily to meet this goal by adhering to the organization's mission statement, which is "Wingstop provides Quality Products; with a Superior Guest Experience at an Exceptional Value ... Everyday!"
Stokes said Wingstop faces challenges that include the rising cost of fresh chicken, an increased number of insurance policies and higher insurance premiums. She works hard to balance these increasing costs as she seeks to grow revenue. "We have a passion for serving our guests hot, fresh food at a great value in spite of the ever increasing costs" she said.
The Chamber's 93rd Annual Meeting and Membership Banquet is Tuesday, Sept. 30, at SFA Grand Ballroom. The event begins at 6 p.m. with a social hour. Dinner is served at 7 p.m. The Gary Justice Business Excellence Award recipients and Citizen of the Year will be recognized, and the 2014-15 chamber board of directors will be inducted at the event.
Bronze sponsorships are available for $600 and include corporate recognition and seating for nine. Individual admission tickets are available for $40. Contact the chamber of commerce at 936-560-5533 for reservations. Seating is limited, and the reservation deadline is Sept. 26.
Past five Medium Business of the Year recipients:
2013 - M & S Pharmacy
2012 - Austin Bank, Texas N.A.
2011 - Hydrex Environmental, Inc.
2010 - First Bank & Trust East Texas
2009 - Axley & Rode, LLP