How QSR’s Have to Navigate Shortages & Inflation

Wing It On! is a QSR brand focused on providing chicken lovers with better wings and sandwiches in a takeout and delivery model. Matt Ensero, Wing It On’s CEO, launched his first location in 2011 in Waterbury, CT. Today, Wing it On! is in ten locations with one food truck and nine brick & mortar establishments. Ensero spoke with Barbara Castiglia on his concept of building a better wing.

“When we say building a better wing concept, we mean building a better takeout and delivery wing concept,” Ensero explained. While there are many sports bars and sit-down restaurants with extraordinary wings, Ensero believes there’s an opening in the takeout and delivery market to provide exceptional and authentic Buffalo-style wings.

Ensero’s formula for a successful QSR venture starts with homemade sauces and toppings for all menu items. Next Ensero developed what he calls, a whole bird strategy. Wing It On!’s menu includes items that include breast meat for sandwiches and thighs. Not only does this approach make more use of the bird, but it provides cost savings for the franchise operations.

Wing It On! is not immune to the challenges brought on by the pandemic and some of the supply-chain shortages. Still, Ensero said they moved quickly to identify 5-8 SKUs of a potential need to keep inventory levels stable. As for the other challenge brought on by the pandemic—staffing shortages, Ensero said they’d navigated that situation too.

“We’ve just focused on and doubled down on what we’ve always done, and that’s to hire great people, pay them a fair, livable wage, and make work a fun place to be,” Ensero said.

As Wing It On! Seeks to expand its operations with new food trucks and brick & mortar franchise locations, the recipe for success is to keep the store footprint small to drive high sales per square foot. Finding small area locations is not as easy as before the pandemic because Ensero said everyone these days is looking for a smaller footprint.

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