Winging it: Dallas-based Wingstop introduces chicken thighs

DALLAS — A Dallas-based company is winging it with a new chicken offering.

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Wingstop, a Dallas-based company, on Monday announced the launch of Thighstop, a virtual restaurant that will serve up chicken thighs.

The side company is focusing on a “whole bird strategy,” Thighstop COO Mahesh Sadarangani told The Dallas Morning News.

“It’s a fun, tongue-in-cheek way to introduce a brand in an area where there are a bunch of new virtual brands being launched,” Sadarangani told the newspaper.

The thighs, available in 11 flavors, will be served with or without sauce, and there is also a boneless version, CNN reported.

It is a digital-only product, available only through Thighstop.com or through DoorDash, CNBC reported. The food will be available for delivery or carryout in 1,400 locations nationwide.

All of Thighstop’s thighs will be made inside Wingstop restaurants, the Morning News reported.

“We made chicken the center of the plate,” Sadarangani told the newspaper. “We’ll do everything we can do to make thighs the center of the plate, not the bottom of the bucket.”

Wingstop executives tested Thighstop in seven markets in late 2020 before making it available nationwide on Monday, the Morning News reported. Dallas residents got it on Saturday.

During the pandemic, when restaurants reverted to delivery and pickup options, chicken wings sales rose, CNN reported. At Wingstop, sales at U.S. stores that were open for at least a year grew by 21%, the network reported.

But since more restaurants are opening because COVID-19 restrictions are being eased, demand for wings, plus high feed costs, have driven prices higher, according to CNN.

Chicken wing prices were $2.72 per pound on average last week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That is nearly 20 cents higher than the same week last year, CNBC reported.

Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison told Forbes that the thigh brand was a way for the chain to address fears of the chicken wing shortage.

“For us it’s important we use all parts of the bird,” Morrison said during a call last week. “It’s a strategic supply chain plan of ours where we can think about stabilizing prices and impacting franchisees’ PnL (profit and loss statements) in a positive way, while still giving our guests something new and differentiated.”

Thighstop meals are sold in family packs and in individual combination packages, the Morning News reported. A three-piece bone-in thigh combo, served with fries and one sauce, costs $7.99. A 12-piece bone-in thigh pack, which can feed up to four people, costs $24.99, the newspaper reported.