The Freedom Boulevard restaurant closed on Saturday, despite two years of increasing business.
"We grew the business in the last year. Weekly sales were up 25 percent on average from the year before, and we were continuing to grow. So that was encouraging. But the overhead that a franchise business model requires is pretty high, and ," said Ed Laughlin, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Laura Laughlin.
Ten employees worked at the Watsonville-based store, several of whom will be able to transfer to the Santa Cruz branch which the Laughlins opened in June of last year.
Leaving the Watsonville community is not an easy move, though. Last year, five armed men robbed the store, and Laughlin says the community support that followed was phenomenal.
" was not a factor in closing the business, in fact there was a very surprising reaction by the community that supported us after the robbery because we experienced a growth in business since that day," said Laughlin. "All of the customers that were with us that night returned the next day to get their orders filled. That meant a lot to us."
Establishing themselves in the community wasn't easy to do, though.
"When we started, we were unknown as a franchise brand to the community. So we had to do the hard work to introduce the brand," said Laughlin.
The Laughlins look forward to consolidating their resources into their Santa Cruz location, and hope that some of their Watsonville customers make it to their Santa Cruz store.
Wingstop's most loyal customers were a group of 10 12-year-olds from the middle school that came in every Friday afternoon.
"They'd pool all of their money and they would also pool all of their discount coupons and stretch their money as far as they could, and take over the patio for an hour and a half, taking full advantage of the free refills," said Laughlin.
Wingstop serves Buffalo-style chicken wings, and specializes in their different sauces which include teriyaki, BBQ Hawaiian, and Original Hot. They also sell side salads and fresh-cut seasoned fries.
"We're going to miss everybody in Watsonville, our loyal customers and the friendships that we've made," said Laughlin.