Wings Over Broadway hosted its final Tuesday Wing Night this week, ending a tradition that had been popular with patrons for eight years.
And on Wednesday, Jan. 31, Mulligans Food, Sports, Drink at 9403 E. Golf Links Road, hosted its final Wing Wednesdays, where customers could get wings for 75 cents apiece. The price beginning next Wednesday, Feb. 7, goes up to $1 a wing.
“We’ve held it for as long as we could,” the owners of Mulligans posted on Facebook Tuesday.
Wings Over Broadway owner JJ Esquibel said the increase in Arizona’s minimum wage, which jumped 50 cents an hour to $10.50 on Jan. 1, was a major factor in his decision to end the program. Wings has just over 30 employees, and most are part-time, he said.
“Obviously that type of raise impacts our business not only in what we pay our employees, but people are increasing their prices. There’s that cause and effect, and I’m paying more,” he said.
Add to that the fact that the cost of wings coming into Super Bowl Sunday are at their highest price, which is an annual trend. The prices are lowest when the football season starts in August and inches up as the season progresses.
“It seems every year it’s a new all-time high in pricing,” Esquibel said.
Nationally, consumers are expected to go through 1.33 billion wings on Super Bowl Sunday, according to Forbes magazine. At Wings Over Broadway, which has two locations — the original at 5004 E. Broadway and the new location at 8838 E. Broadway that he opened last summer — Esquibel expects to sell as many wings this Sunday as he normally does in a week. At his original location last Super Bowl, he sold 18,224 wings, he said.
Esquibel said he plans to substitute a $10 any pizza night on Tuesdays at the new location, which, unlike the original, has a pizza oven.
“We’ve brought in a lot of new customers Tuesday nights. Maybe we can just keep them coming on Tuesday nights,” he said.
Meanwhile, he also has increased the price of his wings, going from about 93 cents a wing to $1.15. An order of 10 wings is now $11.50.
“It’s really hard to justify almost giving your food away. I think wing night really worked well for us to kind of draw people there, to get them to come on a day that it was fairly inexpensive to bring a family,” he said, adding that many restaurants are ditching their weekly specials.
Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizza got rid of its wing night a couple years ago.
One restaurant that hasn’t done away with the promotion is Native Grill & Wings, a Phoenix-based chain with locations throughout Arizona and in several other states. At its Marana location (8225 N. Courtney Page Way, off Interstate 10 and Cortaro Road), for example, it offers 49-cent wings from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Mondays through Fridays and all day Tuesdays for traditional wings with the purchase of a beverage and for dine-in only.
Native has four other independently owned Tucson area locations: 3100 E. Speedway, 5421 S. Calle Santa Cruz near the Spectrum Mall on the south side, 11107 N. Oracle Road in Oro Valley and 10255 E. Old Vail Road in Vail.