Q&A with Atomic Wings CEO Zak Omar
1851 Franchise: What makes Atomic Wings unique in its segment?
Omar: We’ve been doing this for 30 years, long before the vast majority of our competitors, so we know what works. That goes for both the product—what our customers are looking for—and for the business, which has been refined and perfected over the years. But even as chicken wings have become more popular over the years, we’ve kept our edge by focusing on more and better: more variety and better flavors. Most wing shops will offer some range of heat levels and maybe three or four flavors; we offer 14 flavors, each developed after months of researching and testing to perfect them. So we really offer something perfect for everybody. Whatever kind of wing you like, we’ve got the best version of that you’ve ever tried.
1851: What are some key milestones from the brand’s history?
Omar: We’ve been at this a long time, and we’ve always done well, so I don’t typically think in terms of breakthroughs or specific moments when the business took off or things like that, but there are a few things we can point to that were exciting indicators of the progress we’ve made. We’ve been featured on quite a few talk shows, including Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert’s shows, and those are always really fun. We also did a brand survey recently that revealed that with our 11 locations on the East Coast, we have greater brand recognition in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut than WingStop, which has 1,000 locations.
Another turning point for us recently was our first sale in Nevada and Arizona, which was a 10-store agreement in those two states, and we’re really excited about breaking into those markets.
1851: What does the ideal Atomic Wings franchisee look like?
Omar: We’re always looking for folks who are going to be strong, hands-on leaders. That means people who have a passion for the brand and a commitment to high-quality service in whatever they’re doing. It also means, more often than not, people with restaurant experience.
When we can find a franchisee who meets those qualifications, we’ll do whatever we can to help them succeed. We’re looking for people who are going to work hard, and we are prepared to work just as hard to support them.
1851: What kind of support does Atomic Wings offer franchisees?
Omar: All the money that comes in from royalties is invested directly back into the brand. That includes advertising, promotions and all the resources and materials that go along with those things. Some franchises reinvest some of that money into advertising, but it’s usually national advertising aimed at brand awareness. We focus more on local advertising, reaching the folks who are actually going to go to these locations, so it has a really direct impact. We’ll support product launches, create posters — really anything a franchisee needs to make a splash in their community.
1851: What does Atomic Wings have planned for the years ahead?
Omar: We’ve been growing fast, and we have no plans to slow down. We just signed our first 10-unit agreement out west, and we’ve got another six locations planned for this year. All of those locations are franchisee-owned, and we’re going to continue expanding out with new and existing franchisees