Thirty years ago, two college students started Wing Zone while studying at the University of Florida. Today, there are over 65 Wing Zone locations, and we are still rapidly growing — spurred by strategic decision-making at the highest levels.
Just last year, Wing Zone was acquired by Capriotti’s, an award-winning sandwich franchise with more than 120 locations nationally, meaning that not only do franchise partners boast the benefit of having two solid and established brands behind them, but the leadership team is only growing stronger, providing the path to long-term, sustained success.
Speaking of success, our leadership team’s number one priority is the success of our franchise partners. Recently, we have added two new faces to our team to add to our strong foundation that’s driving the rapid growth of our current locations and our franchise system as a whole.
The Wing Zone team takes a proactive approach to growth, anticipating and optimizing it in order to make the most of it as it happens, rather than sitting back, waiting for it to happen, and struggling to keep up. We pride ourselves in the assistance we offer our franchise partners and acknowledge that providing them with a reliable and consistent support system will allow them to flourish and continue to propel their accomplishments.
Meet Derek and Dean: The Newest Faces of the Wing Zone Leadership Team
Derek Roback and Dean Sasso have recently joined the Wing Zone team as vice president of operations and vice president of marketing, and they aim to help take the brand to even greater heights over the next few years.
Upon graduating college in 2014, Derek joined the Domino’s executive leadership program. He started off in management, worked his way up in the company and ultimately spent time working with cross-functional teams on technology, operations, and standards initiatives.
Later, Derek joined Wendy’s as technology and innovation lead for the Western United States, supporting 17 states, 49 franchise partners and approximately 750 restaurants. It wasn’t long after he began this new role in Las Vegas that he discovered Capriotti’s. He instantly fell in love with their signature sandwiches. When he met with the Capriotti’s leadership team in 2019 and learned they were about to acquire Wing Zone, he knew he found his next big opportunity.
As for Dean, he came from the advertising world, where he worked for over 20 years. As a kid, he grew up admiring TV commercials, which planted the seeds for a lifelong love of marketing and advertising. Throughout his time in advertising, he worked with all sorts of brands – from wine and chips to helping re-work Taco Bell’s app. Today, he is enjoying this new stage in his career and is excited to bring his branding expertise to the Wing Zone team.
Why Wing Zone?
As mentioned previously, Derek first came across Wing Zone through the Capriotti’s brand. He had already gotten to know members of the leadership team, and the fact that they had such great people stuck out to him. Additionally, he was impressed with the processes and systems that Capriotti’s already had in place, and he couldn’t wait to bring those same efficient operations to Wing Zone.
Dean, on the other hand, is from New Jersey, so naturally, food has always been a huge deal to him. He’s always been a big fan of chicken wings, and when he was working for a headphone manufacturer in Las Vegas, he became a regular at Capriotti’s. As soon as the brand acquired Wing Zone, he knew he had to get in on the action.
His food and beverage experience is an excellent fit for this new role, and he is excited to see that Wing Zone has such loyal customers. He’s looking forward to learning more about what keeps them coming back and using that to continue to expand.
What They Will Bring to this Popular Chicken Wing Franchise
At Wing Zone, Derek will focus on leading systems and processes and getting the brand ready for the exponential growth that lies ahead. He looks forward to building relationships with the franchise partners.
“We really want to treat these relationships as partnerships and emphasize that both sides work together. That is the key to success,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Dean will focus on maintaining and growing the success of Wing Zone. He is aiming to make it the second-largest wing franchise by 2025. He will work on developing and reinventing certain pieces of the brand to increase its place in the market. He’ll also be working with the franchise partners to get a feel for their customer base and find out what works well and what can be improved.
Emphasizing Teamwork and Maximizing Efficiency
Both Derek and Dean’s first priorities when stepping into their new roles will be getting to know the franchise partners and their teams. They believe a cohesive relationship with the franchise partners is what will ultimately help them drive success.
Furthermore, Derek hopes to open stores in Las Vegas very soon, and will spend much of his first 90 days observing those around him, the processes and learning as much as he can about the brand. He will use the information he gathers to analyze the areas in which he can be of the most assistance.
He also noticed how simple and efficient Wing Zone’s processes are, and he wants to work on bringing more pieces of the Capriotti’s model to the brand. Meanwhile, Dean is focusing on alleviating some of the workloads from the Capriotti's team and using what they’ve started to grow it to something even greater.
What Lies Ahead
Together, they hope to get 250 units achieving $1 million in annual sales by 2025. They’re also eager to solidify a reputation of getting people the best wings the fastest, and to build systems that will stand the test of time.
They look forward to contributing to our supportive and franchise partner-focused system and are eager to witness the rapid growth our franchise partners experience through their Wing Zone locations.
Looking to grow your portfolio with a team of experts that want to see you succeed? Give our team a call at (702) 553-1329 or contact us online to request more information on how to get started!