Cooks face chicken wing crunch as prices take off

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — From owner-operator chefs to chains like Hot Chicken Takeover, there’s a wing crunch on in Columbus.

On Wednesday, Hot Chicken Takeover said it would chop white bone-in chicken from menus and put up the price of wings “due to supply chain volatility and soaring prices,” the company said in a media release.

This isn’t a surprise to Rich Greenberg, owner of Chef Rich’s Kitchen off of West Schrock Road in Westerville. His case of 225 wings went from $80 to $192 this week.

Last week, he couldn’t get them at all.

“This week, they are available, but I can’t morally sell my wings for the price I would need to,” Greenberg said. “About $2 each. I can’t sell 6 wings for $12.00. I’m not going to do that.”

Greenberg took inspiration from his 20 years in the Air Force: adapt, improvise, and overcome.

“So I have started making crispy-breaded chicken nuggets from 100% breast meat, which is still available.”

Chicken breasts are brined for 24 hours before Greenberg serves them with one of the house-made sauces: cherry bomb, honey sriracha, chipotle honey, spicy garlic parmesan, Asian sensation, buffalo, BBQ, honey habanero, Teriyaki, Moroccan BBQ and cherry jalapeno.

“We’re going to be seeing a lot more breast meat,” predicts Greenberg.

Meanwhile, beef prices hold steady — for now. Good news for his gourmet burger menu, which features toppings like ghost pepper mac-n-cheese, peanut butter & jalapeno jam, and a bacon-brisket-burger, along with American diner classics.

The reason for the chicken shortage is a long chain of events, Greenberg said.

“There aren’t enough drivers delivering feed to chicken farms, not enough people at farms processing the chickens. Social-distancing in factories mean staff cut down. After that, there’s not enough drivers to deliver the product. So there are problems from top to bottom.

“There’s no relief in sight. A rep sent me industry publications, and chicken continues to be on the rise,” Greenberg said.

Meanwhile, Wings Over Columbus on North High Street in Worthington has an opening planned for Thursday, offering free wings from 11 a.m. To redeem, add the “6 Tender Meal” or “6 Wings” menu item to your cart, and use code COLUMBUS at checkout at order.wingsover.com, the social media post said.

Get ’em while you can!

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