Chicken Wing Shortage?: Restaurants Expect High Demand for Super Bowl Weekend

Is there really a chicken wing shortage? Local restaurant operators explain.

Are the rumors about a chicken wing shortage due to high Super Bowl demand true?

National media has detailed the situation. Americans will eat 1.23 billion chicken wing "portions" during Super Bowl weekend, according to one report.

"To put that in perspective," the report said, "If 1.23 billion wing segments were laid end to end, they would stretch from Candlestick Park in San Francisco to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore ... 27 times."

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But does that really mean chicken wings are in short supply?

"Yes, it's true," said Ray Stanjevich, owner/operator of Friends Sports Grill in Dacula. "There is always a chicken wing shortage at this time of year."

"Actually, wing prices for the last 12 months have been fairly high, especially in comparison to other years in the recent past," Stanjevich added. "Normally, wing prices start to increase at the beginning of the football season and they peak at Super Bowl. After that, they gradually come down and stabilize for the rest of the year."

Other restaurateurs in Gwinnett do not expect a supply shortage, but acknowledge that their supply costs can change.

Steve Jacoby, GM of the Tilted Kilt in Suwanee, said, "we have not been told any concerns over ... a wing shortage for next week. Even if we were to run into a shortage, and prices were to shoot up, as they are a commodity with constantly fluctuating prices, we would not raise our costs to our guests."

“We have plenty of wings,” said Justin Fanning, assistant general manager of the Arena Tavern in Duluth, near I-85. This eatery in particular plans several Super Bowl-related specials in the coming weekend, such as a Wing Bowl on Saturday (February 2) and an "all you can eat" buffet on game day.

Bart Dyer, GM of Buffalo's Cafe (formerly Diggers) in Suwanee, also is gearing up. Since the restaurant recently opened under the current banner, Dyer does not have any historical data for comparison. However, he's estimating that Buffalo's will order about 15 40-pound cases (that's 600 pounds) of chicken wings for Super Bowl Sunday.

Jacoby also noted that the Super Bowl has become much more of an "at-home event" for Americans than a go-out event. "Most sports bars will experience a significant uptick in To-Go sales," he explained. Also, he expects that Tilted Kilt, which opened in Suwanee in March 2012, will experience a normal wing-usage week of about 300 pounds.

Stanjevich, who soon plans to open a Friends location in Suwanee, noted how restaurants are struggling with their supply costs for wings.

"Two and a half years ago we were paying $40 for a case of wings and now we are paying $95," he said. "For places like mine, that sell a lot of wings, it has been really tough. Can you imagine how tough it is for a Buffalo's or a Taco Mac or a Wild Wing? A huge percentage of their sales are chicken wings.

"Also, if you look, all of these chains have added items to their menu to persuade customers to NOT order chicken wings. I know Taco Mac is now offering these huge drum sticks ... Buffalo's and Wild Wing are doing chicken strips and pushing boneless wings."

Do you plan to buy chicken wings at a restaurant or to enjoy while watching the Super Bowl at home? Let us know in the comments.

The Super Bowl between Baltimore and San Francisco will kick off on Sunday, Feb. 3, at 6:30 p.m. on CBS.


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