Emerging Brands

Applebee's adds a Cheetos-inspired virtual wings concept

Wings and other finger foods will be offered for delivery-only from 1,300 Applebee's restaurants starting today.
Photograph: Shutterstock

A vast majority of  Applebee’s domestic restaurants will take another shot at the wings delivery business through the launch today of a new virtual concept, Cosmic Wings.  

The venture will offer delivery-only wings and other finger foods bearing the flavor of Cheetos, the crunchy cheese puffs from Pepsico’s salty snack line.  Signature items include two Cheetos dipping sauces made exclusively for Cosmic Wings.

The choices include bone-in and boneless wings, “cheese bites,” chicken tenders, waffle fries and onion rings.

The food will be delivered from the 1,300 Applebee’s restaurants by Uber Eats. Through Feb. 28, delivery fees are being waived on orders of $15 or more. Applebee's operates or franchises 1,728 restaurants domestically in total. 

Applebee’s has already experimented with another virtual delivery-only wings concept, Neighborhood Wings by Applebee’s. "Neighborhood Wings was a great start for us, but it is winding down and we are rolling into Cosmic Wings," the chain said in a statement to Restaurant Business. "We found that the ability to offer something exclusive  – and highly popular – through the online-only platform is a game-changer, which is why we’re excited to launch with this partnership between Cheetos and Cosmic Wings."

Many of Applebee’s competitors are similarly looking to bolster the sales output of their existing restaurants by adding virtual brands for delivery-only sales. Chili’s says its concept, It’s Just Wings, is on track to generate $150 million in annual sales. Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin’ Brands is still testing its entrants, Tender Shack and Aussie Grill by Outback.

Applebee's is franchised by Dine Brands Global, which is also the parent of the IHOP family dining chain. The parent company did not indicate that Cosmic Wings may also be embraced by IHOP.

Correction: An earlier version of the story indicated that Applebee's had 1,300 domestic units, all of which would be offering Cosmic Wings as a standalone concept. The chain actually has 1,728 stores in the U.S., some 1,300 of which are adding Cosmic Wings.






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