A chicken wing chain endorsed by rapper Rick Ross is on fire

Wingstop‘s business is on fire.

The fast-casual chicken wing chain, which has been called a cross between Chipotle and Buffalo Wild Wings, had the food industry’s hottest IPO of the summer. Sales are up 9% in the most recent quarter, double what analysts at Morgan Stanley were expecting.

And if Wall Street’s adoration weren’t enough, Wingstop has rapper Rick Ross to sing its praises.

Hip-hop’s heavyweight lyricist name-drops his favourite flavour (Lemon Pepper) and brags about the number of franchises he owns (20 then; 25 now) in the 2012 track “Trap Boomin.'” His lyrics and social media accounts chronicle a storied love affair with the chain.

We stopped by Wingstop’s Daly City, California, location to see what all the buzz is about.

When I arrive at the Wingstop in Daly City, California, the nostalgic aviation-themed d├ęcor strikes me. I expected more of a trashy sports bar vibe.

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All 785 locations around the world look like this -- even rapper Rick Ross' 25 restaurants. Sadly, this was not one of them.

(Instagram) 10pc Shawty.....

A photo posted by Ricky Rozay (@richforever) on Jul 4, 2014 at 6:24pm PDT

Though the rapper has been spotted at locations across the country. He takes meetings and poses for photos with staff.

(Instagram) Powerhouse Sports Agent Drew Rosenhaus,Gucci,Robert,and Mike talk #WINNING at #WINGSTOP

A photo posted by Ricky Rozay (@richforever) on May 8, 2014 at 7:07am PDT

One Brooklyn-based franchise-owner told Forbes Magazine in an interview, 'People come in here thinking he owns this all the time. He made Wingstop more popular.'

(Instagram) Ten Pc Shawty x Black Bottle Boy x Hood Billionaire

A photo posted by Ricky Rozay (@richforever) on Nov 19, 2014 at 12:59pm PST

So, what attracted hip-hop's cash king in the first place? Back in Daly City, I notice immediately how limited the menu board is ...

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That's what makes Wingstop so great: It does wings. That's about it. For 21 years, the brand has focused on one niche guilty-pleasure food, and perfected it.

Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

I step into the kitchen to see how it's done.

Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

With the exception of football game nights when demand is particularly high, bone-in wings arrive from the warehouse fresh, not frozen. Every batch is cooked to order.

Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

The boneless chicken wings are frozen en route, and appear to have a thick layer of batter.

Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

Into the fryer they go! The wings cook for 11 minutes, which seems like forever compared to the speedy service at fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle. But they never sit out under a heat lamp.

Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

Time for the saucing. Wingstop offers 11 unique flavours, including Mango Habanero, Hickory Smoked BBQ, Cajun, and Original Hot, which tastes like a traditional buffalo-style.

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The Lemon Pepper wings are the most popular flavour after Original Hot. Which may be surprising, because, frankly, they sound gross.

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When in fact, the zesty lemon bursts with flavour, and the hearty flakes of pepper cut the acidity. Its a match made in culinary heaven.

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They're Ross's favourite, too. In the song 'New Agenda,' he says he spent $6 million on a condo and an extra $2 million on the terrace, but, 'All I want is that Lemon Pepper.'

(Instagram) Sometimes even I gotta smile. #25

A photo posted by Ricky Rozay (@richforever) on Apr 5, 2014 at 2:24pm PDT

The equally surprising and savoury Garlic Parmesan wings taste like chicken-topped fettuccine alfredo. The owner tells me that Wingstop wants to make wing flavours you can't get anywhere else.

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A spice-lover may graduate from the Original Hot to the Louisiana Rub, a southern-inspired dry rub made with cajun and garlic.

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It is surprisingly hot, and definitely my new favourite.

Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

Wingstop offers a few sides, including baked beans, potato salad, and freshly baked roles, but none have garnered a following like the Seasoned Fries. This Wingstop location goes through roughly 450 pounds of Idaho potatoes every day.

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They're cut, blanched, and fried in-house.

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The kitchen manager won't reveal the seasoning's ingredients, but I'm pretty sure it's salt, pepper, garlic, and a pound of sugar.

Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

The salty-sweet combination makes the fries absolutely addicting.

Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

The Ranch dressing is also made fresh every day. The owner tells me some customers stop in just to buy little containers of it.

Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

Wingstop is refreshing in its bold flavour profiles. These are not your slimy, late-night buffalo-style wings you ordered in college.

Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

It's easy to see why Ross is crazy for Wingstop.

Melia Robinson/Tech Insider

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