Drew Gooden moves from pro basketball to wings franchise
It’s been a quiet fall for the National Basketball Association .. , since the owners and players are stuck in a contract dispute and the 2011-2012 season is in a lockout.
But that leaves time for business ventures — and former Orlando Magic .. player Drew Gooden is doing just that.
Gooden — who played last season with the Milwaukee Bucks and had two seasons with Orlando in the early 2000s — along with operating partner George Taylor III last month inked a deal with Texas restaurant chain Wingstop Inc. .. to open four new restaurants in the Orlando area. The pair, as Zerocon Food Systems LLC, plan to open the eatery in areas such as Altamonte Springs, Dr. Phillips, Lake Mary, the University of Central Florida main campus area in east Orlando and Winter Park, just to name a few possible locations.
Gooden said he expects to sign the first lease by the end of this month, most likely in the Altamonte Springs area.
Stores will range from 1,200-1,800 square feet and will start out employing up to six or so workers, Gooden said. Zerocon Food Systems also is mostly on the lookout for existing restaurant space, so it can capture good traffic once the stores open.
Gooden’s goal: To grow Wingstop in Orlando to the proportions of Five Guys Burgers and Fries or Jimmy Johns.
“I did lot of research on different franchises,” he said, adding that he wanted to land a Five Guys deal, but that the only franchises available were outside of the United States. “Wingstop is where Five Guys was four years ago, and now it’s got 15-20 locations throughout Orlando.”
Meanwhile, Zerocon Food Systems is targeting Jan. 1 for its first Central Florida location — though an existing Wingstop is in Casselberry, under a long-term owner.
And with the success of chains like Buffalo Wild Wings, which has seven Orlando-area locations, wings are a great addition to the market. Wingstop serves more as a take-out location — in fact, it’s 70 percent of the chain’s sales, Gooden said — with a menu featuring bone-in wings, boneless wings, chicken strips and nine sauces, along with “gliders,” a version of sliders with chicken breast meat.
Hey, you can never go wrong with more wings!
Are you excited about the growth of Wingstop in Orlando? Leave a comment below or email me.