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Wingstop soars after market debut

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Wingstop President & CEO Charles Morrison, center, was joined in applause during opening bell ceremonies at the Nasdaq MarketSite, to mark his company's IPO, in New York's Times Square on Friday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK » Shares of Wingstop Inc. soared Friday after the chicken wings chain said it raised more than $110 million in its initial public offering, the latest debut for a fast casual restaurant.

The stock climbed $11.59, or 61 percent, to close at $30.59 on Friday, far above its IPO price of $19 a share.

Chains that call themselves "fast casual" tout a more relaxed atmosphere and faster service than traditional restaurants, while promoting their meals as healthier and fresher than fast food. The style has grown in popularity in recent years, and older fast food chains are trying to refashion themselves to catch the trend.

Fast casual has also caught on with investors.

Wingstop’s debut is the most recent in a string that stretches back more than year. Shares of Shake Shack and sandwich maker Potbelly both more than doubled in value on their first day of trading. Chicken chain El Pollo Loco climbed about 60 percent on its first day, and chicken and biscuits maker Bojangles advanced 25 percent. Each company had an IPO that priced at more than $100 million.

Wingstop serves wings with sides and fries, and opened 100 restaurants in 2014. The company has two locations in Hawaii: at Kapalama Shopping Center and The Gateway at Mililani Mauka shopping center. There are currently has around 750 locations in the U.S. and five other countries.

The chain earned $2.6 million on revenue of $19 million in its most recent quarter. Sales in U.S. stores open at least a year, a key metric of a retailer’s health, rose nearly 11 percent.

Shares of Wingstop are listed under the ticker "WING."

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