- Wingstop launched a virtual restaurant brand called Thighstop on Monday through the brand’s exclusive delivery partner DoorDash, the company said in an emailed press release to Restaurant Dive.
- The concept will operate at 1,400 Wingstop locations and customers will be able to order via Thighstop.com or DoorDash. Its menu offers boneless and breaded boneless thighs tossed in 11 different flavors of Wingstop, alongside the current sides of QSR.
- As wing prices rise and competition in the wing space increases, Wingstop is using the virtual brand to encourage guests to try thighs. This strategy could reduce food costs and potentially avoid wing supply problems during a nationwide chicken famine.
This virtual brand wing stopper digital strategy. In 2020, the company has surpassed $1 billion in digital sales and is finding innovative ways to reach customers, such as adding ghost kitchens. The company has more than a dozen ghost kitchens around the world and has plans to eventually expand this model to key markets in the US. launched in the last 18 months.
The company said that instead of adding thighs to Wingstop’s menu, the chain is using the virtual restaurant route to better highlight the new product, and guests also appreciated the convenience of ordering online.
“As a tech-focused platform brand, Wingstop is always focused on growing its fan base and increasing digital operations,” the company said in an email. “Thighstop will help the brand carry the digital momentum it experienced during the pandemic into the future.”
Increasing competition and demand has exacerbated the wing shortages, prompting many restaurants to rethink their menus. CFO Michael Skipworth said during the company’s first quarter 2021 earnings call that it reported a 25.8% year-over-year increase in wing prices despite Wingstop establishing a price reduction strategy with the largest poultry suppliers. Skipworth said the company expects wing prices to remain high in 2021 and expects food costs at its company’s restaurants to be about 42% of their costs.
This is relatively low compared to what other operators have experienced. A restaurant owner in New York said: chicken wing prices increased by 99% at one supplier because the farm is having a hard time finding work. A devastating winter storm in Texas and nearby states affected large chicken production and contributed to the current chicken shortage also. During the pandemic, the demand for chicken wings among consumers also increased by 7%, According to Vox. According to USA Today, wings have proven to be pandemic proof as they are easy to transport via takeout or delivery.