Fazoli’s is adding chicken wings at all of its restaurants

The new menu item may be off-brand for the Italian fast casual, but the chain says wings are boosting sales and traffic.
Fazolis wings
Photo courtesy of Fazoli's

Fazoli’s, which recently launched a delivery-only wing concept, announced Tuesday that it will now serve chicken wings at all locations of its Italian fast-casual brand.

Starting Wednesday, wings in a variety of flavors will be available for dine-in, drive-thru, online ordering and delivery at all company-owned Fazoli’s units. Franchisees will begin adding wings as early as this fall, with a full rollout slated by spring.

Tests at the Lexington, Ky.-based chain found a sales boost of nearly 11% at locations with wings, the company said.

“The numbers out of the gate were so strong, making the decision to launch wings company-wide this fall is a no-brainer,” Fazoli’s CEO Carl Howard said in a statement.

Wings have quickly become a superstar of the pandemic era, with a number of restaurant chains launching virtual wing concepts. Wings, which can be customized with a wide variety of flavors and dipping sauces, have proven to be a popular meal option for families stuck inside due to the coronavirus.

Dallas-based Wingstop, for example, reported 32% same-store sales growth during its second quarter.

Fazoli’s reports its most successful summer in brand history, ending August with sales up 17.4% and traffic up 21.6% at company-owned stores. Wings were introduced at 11 company-operated stores over the summer and the chain projects wings will bring in an additional $2,500 a week per location.

Fazoli’s operates nearly 220 restaurants in 28 states.

Adding wings to the menu requires the addition of fryers at Fazoli’s kitchens, an added expense but also a piece of equipment that opens up other menu options.

The chain is eyeing new fried menu items such as mozzarella skewers, toasted ravioli and zeppole.

Fazoli’s wings can be tossed in a range of sauces, including mild, medium, hot, honey BBQ, hot honey BBQ, Parmesan garlic and Asian chili sauce.

“Though we are an Italian brand, we wanted to expand and explore new ways to innovate our menu to provide guests with something they’d never expect from us,” Rick Petralia, the brand’s director of culinary innovation, said in a statement. “Wings were an easy choice because of their popularity and ease of execution. They are a perfect expansion for our off-premise business. On the culinary side, our team has been working very hard to perfect our wing recipes, testing and evolving sauces to provide the best variety and flavor for our guests. This is only the beginning, and the new equipment opens up even more possibilities to continue to innovate and enhance our menu.”

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