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Rising Cost Of Chicken Wings Challenging Already Hurting Restaurant Industry In Western Pa.

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The Super Bowl is closing in, and chicken wing prices are going up.

But this year, the price is increasing more than usual, and it's challenging an already hurting restaurant industry in western Pennsylvania.

"Being voted best wings in Pittsburgh, our sales are out the door," said Richard Rattner of William Penn Tavern in Shadyside.

Rattner says wholesale prices for chicken wings have gone up from about $70 per 40 pounds a year ago to almost $120 for the same amount this year. Demand usually causes chicken wing prices to rise as we get closer to the Super Bowl. But this year, it's a much bigger price hike.

Joseph Rewis, the co-owner of Bigham Tavern in Mt. Washington, says, "With the COVID virus impacting processing plants and chicken purveyors themselves and their ability to increase production, we're seeing those prices reach new highs."

Rewis says his customers understand why he has temporarily increased wing prices. He also says supply is tight, and he can't get all the wings he orders from his wholesalers.

"We're exploring options with chicken thighs, as well as drumsticks to try to offset this huge price spike we're seeing," Rewis says.

"You have to find other products, such as boneless wings or we're actually looking into tofu and other options we can use our sauces with," Rattner said.

As for prices, normally, restaurants can offset the annual price increase with increased alcohol sales around the Super Bowl. But with limited capacity, that's not happening, making an already razor-thin margin even thinner.

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