Thursday, June 21, 2007

New eatery is a family affair

The Salinas Californian

At Wing Stop, a chicken-wing restaurant newly opened in northeast Salinas, almost all of the franchise owner's family members are involved in the production and management of the dine-in/take-out eatery - including 12-year-old Kalanni Young.

Kalanni, daughter of Wing Stop co-owners and Salinas residents Willie and Claudia Young, started helping out by cleaning tables when the restaurant opened about six weeks ago. Then she took orders from guests for a brief period. Now, Kalanni is out in the field with her grandmother handing out flyers to area residents.

"Luckily, all our siblings live in town and we can rely on them for support," said General Manager Yolanda Pena, Claudia Young's sister. Pena said at least one family member is in Wing Stop at all times.

Wing Stop is in the Creek Bridge Shopping Center on Constitution Boulevard at Manchester Drive. The restaurant's grand opening will be held sometime in the next two weeks, Willie Young said.

The family had a dream of opening a chicken-wing-style restaurant, Pena said, and decided to buy a franchise from Wing Stop Restaurants Inc., based in Richardson, Texas.

"We decided it would be better than a mom-and-pop-type restaurant," Pena said.

"If a Wing Stop came into town, it could have blown us out of the water."

The Salinas Wing Stop has had a successful opening, pulling in more than the average Wing Stop restaurant in its opening weeks, Pena said.

"I knew some people would like it, but I didn't expect it to be as popular as it is," Willie Young said.

Young said there is a niche for wing-style restaurants. He is considering opening another store in Gilroy or Monterey.

"It's different. It's not the normal," Young said. "There isn't anyone in Salinas that doesn't like chicken."

The restaurant features nine different hot-wing flavors, including the two most popular - lemon pepper and garlic parmesan.

All food is cooked fresh when ordered, Pena said.

Customers can call in orders. Catering is available.

According to the Wing Stop Web site, 109 stores are to open in California by 2009.

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