Wingstop opens virtual chicken thigh brand

Wingstop introduced a new virtual concept, Thighstop, focused on chicken thighs in response to rising prices and shortages of wings throughout the U.S.

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Wingstop introduced a new virtual concept, Thighstop, focused on chicken thighs in response to rising prices and shortages of wings throughout the U.S.

“Wingstop pioneered the concept of chicken wings as a center-of-the-plate item,” Charlie Morrison, Wingstop’s CEO and chairman, said in a statement on June 18. 

“Although Thighstop is in its infancy, we’ve been exploring bone-in and boneless thighs as center-of-the-plate options for some time now as a way to offer fans new ways to enjoy Wingstop’s bold, distinctive and craveable flavors.”

2020 saw an explosion in virtual brands, with everyone from Bloomin’ Brands to Brinker International getting in on chicken wing delivery options. More recently, Chick-fil-A announced the launch of their virtual brand, Little Blue Menu.

Wing prices rise

Wingstop began tests of bone-in thighs in seven markets last fall following rising wing prices

The fast casual brand previously purchased each part of the chicken it uses separately. Adding thighs to the menu helps Wingstop save money by buying whole chickens instead, Morrison told Business Insider.

"We do believe it can reduce the total cost for these products dramatically because we're committing to the entire bird, not just the parts we need," he explained. 

Creative solution to chicken shortages

In addition, Wingstop was one of several foodservice outlets that struggled to meet the demand for chicken wings earlier this year, amidst labor shortages in poultry processing, the overwhelming popularity of chicken with consumers and a major winter storm that slowed production in Texas earlier in 2021.

“Suppliers are struggling just as many in our industry are, to hire people to process chicken, thus placing unexpected pressure on the amount of birds that can be processed and negatively affecting supply of all parts of the chicken in the U.S., not just wings,” Morrison said in an April 28th conference call.

Thighstop offers bone-in and boneless chicken thighs covered in a choice of Wingstop’s 11 sauces, signature ranch and blue cheese dips, fresh-cut seasoned fries, fried corn and rolls.

Menu items from Thighstop will be available for delivery through DoorDash or as a carry out item at all 1,400 Wingstop locations in the U.S.

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