By Karen Robinson-Jacobs
Staff Writer | The Dallas Morning News
Seventeen years after the first Wingstop opened in Garland, the Richardson-based chicken wing chain is preparing to open its 500th location.
On Dec. 19, a franchisee plans to open a Brooklyn store, taking the chain past 499 outlets. It is one of 34 new Wingstop locations this year. The first location opened on Northwest Highway in 1994.
In its 2010 ranking of the nation's top chicken chains, research firm Technomic Inc. put Wingstop in ninth place with about 470 locations. While Wingstop will probably move up on the 2011 list, it still has a fraction of the 5,000-plus outlets operated by market leader KFC.
Wingstop, which counts former Dallas Cowboys star Troy Aikman as its pitchman, plans to open up to 62 locations next year, including one company store. All openings this year were franchised.
The company recently announced plans to make $15 million available to franchisees to develop new restaurants. The financing will be provided through Franchise America Finance and a subsidiary of the Bancorp Inc.
Wingstop was acquired last year by the Roark Capital Group, an Atlanta-based private equity firm.