Chicken Craze Continues as Wingstop Plans IPO

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2014 may be the Year of the Horse, but in the restaurant world, it feels like the Year of the Chicken.

Chicken-wings chain Wingstop is planning an initial public offering, according to The Wall Street Journal. The IPO could raise around $100 million, and value the company at approximately $500 million, reports say.

Wingstop averaged a 15.3 percent increase in same-store sales growth in the second-quarter compared to the previous year, the company reported in July. In the first half of 2014, the company opened 138 restaurants – a record for the chain, which has more than 670 locations worldwide. Internationally, Wingstop operates restaurants in Mexico, Russia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia, as well as planned locations in the United Arab Emirates.

Related: Breaded Chicken Sandwiches Are Having a Moment

The chicken-wings chain is owned by Roark Capital Group, which acquired Wingstop in 2010. Roark owns a number of other restaurant franchises, including Arby's, Auntie Anne's, Cinnabon and CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's.

The IPO comes at a significant time for both chicken sales and restaurant going public. Chicken is on the rise on restaurants' menus, due to customers' health concerns and rising beef and pork prices. Servings of breaded chicken sandwiches grew an average of 3 percent over the last four years, and chains from Domino's and Pizza Hut to Burger King  added new chicken menu items in 2014.

Wingstop's IPO is also on trend in that it is only the latest in this year's list of restaurants' public debuts. Take-and-bake pizza chain Papa Murphy's filed for an IPO in May, Mexican chain El Pollo Loco made its public debut in July and food-and-gaming chain Dave & Buster's went public in October. There are rumors that another fast casual, Shake Shack, will also soon be jumping on the IPO bandwagon.  

Related: Is Shake Shack Preparing for an IPO?

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