Wingmans duo: "We don’t want to expand at a rate where we lose control”

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Wingmans Ben Ford and David Turofsky Soho opening fried chicken expansion Coronavirus

Related tags: Fried chicken, Casual dining, Chefs, Restaurant, London, Soho, Coronavirus

Wingmans founders Ben Ford and David Turofsky say that while further expansion for their cult chicken concept is on the cards, it’s not something they’ll be considering any time soon.

The pair recently opened their second Wingmans location in London​; a huge, 150-cover site on Old Compton Street in Soho that’s almost three times the size of their first permanent restaurant, which opened in Kilburn, north London, back in 2018.

Speaking on the latest Restaurant Podcast​, Ford and Turofsky say they’ve deliberately taken their time before choosing to grow the business.

“We don’t want to expand at a rate where we completely lose control,” explains Turofsky.

“Our focus has been on taking it step by step, and maintaining what we’ve been doing since day one, without over-stretching ourselves.”

Ford agrees. 

“We had Kilburn for two years before opening Soho, which gave us the chance to get to grips with out products and our team,” he adds.

“Expanding too quickly; spending too much money; underestimating operating costs and over-forecasting profits - we didn’t want that to be us. We’ve taken our time, we’ve done our calculations, and yes there will be further growth one day, but right now our focus is on getting this right.”

The decision to take the brand from its more humble neighbourhood roots and bring it to a prime Soho location is ballsy and impressive, but it wasn’t always the plan.

“Central wasn’t our first choice,” says Turofsky.

“But we found this site on Old Compton Street that accentuated that social dining ethos that’s at the heart of the concept. And when we saw it, it just fit. You can plan and you can forecast as much as you want, but you have to have a gut feeling that the site will work, and that’s what we had.”

Originally the plan was to launch the Soho restaurant in March or April, but the Coronavirus lockdown put paid to those plans, leaving the pair to temporarily focus on running a takeaway and delivery operation out of their Kilburn kitchen.

Now, though, Soho is finally open. And while it’s still very early days, the boys are also positive about the initial reaction from diners.

“Nobody planned to open a restaurant during a global pandemic, and had we been able to do it differently we would have done,” says Ford.

“But we’ve had the site since the beginning of the year, so we had to open, and we’re very lucky that we have such a cult following. 

“People want to support us, we’re able to offer a very personal experience, and so far we’ve had great feedback from guests.”

To download this podcast via iTunes click here​.

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