Hot wings soon will be flying in Texas, just in time for the NCAA Final Four. Brinker International, owner of Chili’s Grill & Bar, Maggiano’s Little Italy and virtual brands It’s Just Wings and Maggiano’s Italian Classics, is now delivering food items in Granbury, Texas, via drones. The pilot is part of an expansion of its relationship with drone provider Flytrex and its longtime partner Causey Aviation Unmanned.
The new delivery service launched Tuesday morning and takes advantage of newly granted Federal Aviation Administration approval to fly a delivery radius of one nautical mile. Eligible households that have opted into the service can order food via the Flytrex app.
“We’re thrilled to be soaring into the Lone Star State – an outsized achievement for ultrafast home delivery,” Yariv Bash, CEO and co-founder of Flytrex, said. “After establishing drone delivery as a preferred option in North Carolina, we are excited to bring our unrivaled speed and convenience to Texas, where big things happen. We look forward to bringing drone delivery to backyards across the U.S. as we expand our service nationwide.”
Bash told Modern Shipper that Flytrex will open one drone station at a shopping center in Granbury; two drones will fly from that station in the initial launch, which will be expanded as demand increases.
Granbury is just outside the Dallas-Forth Worth metroplex. Brinker International (NYSE: EAT) was founded in Dallas and now owns, operates or franchises more than 1,600 restaurants in 29 countries and two U.S. territories.
Brinker’s It’s Just Wings brand is part of Flytrex’s existing drone delivery program in Holly Springs, North Carolina.
“As we continue to drive awareness and grow our virtual brand, It’s Just Wings, we continue to explore and leverage technology and innovation,” said Wade Allen, senior vice president of innovation for Brinker International. “With a focus on guest experience and convenience – alongside our killer wings – this new outpost in partnership with Flytrex is another exciting step in the right direction.”
Bash said between 2,000 and 3,000 families are within the flight path of the Granbury drones. Flight time is expected to be 3 minutes or less from launch.
Right now, customers must order through the Flytrex app to receive drone delivery, but the company is working on integrations that would make drone delivery an option within the restaurant’s branded app, Bash said.
Watch: FAA grants Flytrex home delivery approval
In North Carolina, Flytrex’s drones transport It’s Just Wings’ orders to the customers’ homes, lowering the items on a tether as the drone hovers about 80 feet in the air. The app provides updates and notifications along the way. Causey Aviation personnel handle the ground portion of the operation, loading food onto the drone for delivery.
Flytrex has been in North Carolina for several years, first as part of the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP) from 2018 to 2020 and then as part of its subsequent initiative, the BEYOND program, since October 2020. The company started out delivering food and groceries to residents of Fayetteville and Raeford a month after joining BEYOND, first delivering to central pickup locations in those towns and later directly to customers’ homes after the FAA greenlit flying over people.
Flytrex has three drone stations operating in North Carolina.