As a result, costs have skyrocketed to an average of 55 to 60 cents per wing – before they were even cooked and paired with celery and blue cheese.
At that price, it’s “not even worth selling wings just yet,” said Mike Wylke, owner of Brick Oven Pizzeria and Pub on Grand Island. His chicken wing costs have tripled in the past 14 months, he said.
“We’re just biting the bullet right now,” he said.
The Brick Oven’s menu – with Italian dinners, wraps, burgers, tacos – is large and diverse enough that the restaurant doesn’t have to rely solely on selling pizza and wings.
Still, there is no way to avoid local consumer demand for the wings. While they may be an afterthought for restaurants elsewhere in the country, wings are a staple in the Buffalo Niagara area.
In business for 30 years, Wylke is accustomed to price fluctuations related to supply and demand, especially for chicken wings.
“It goes up and down. Every year during the football qualifiers it goes up and then it goes down a bit,” he said.
As a large restaurant that can seat around 250 people in the summer, Brick Oven is better placed than small pizzerias that cannot buy in such large quantities. Still, Wylke has only raised prices slightly and the budget is tight.