As a result, costs have soared to an average 55 to 60 cents per wing – even before they’re cooked and paired with celery and bleu cheese.
At that cost, it’s “not even worth selling wings right now,” 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 kind of 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 pizza and wing sales.
Still, there’s no way to avoid the local consumer demand for wings. While they may be an afterthought for restaurants elsewhere in the country, wings are a must-have in the Buffalo Niagara region.
In business for 30 years, Wylke is used to price fluctuations tied to supply and demand – especially with chicken wings.
“It goes up and down. Every year during football playoffs it rises up and then it goes down a little bit,” he said.
As a large restaurant, which can seat about 250 people in summer, Brick Oven is in a better position than small pizzerias that can’t buy in such large quantities. Still, Wylke has raised prices only slightly, and the budget is strained.