Nathan’s Hot Dogs Launches Virtual Harlem-Style Chicken and Waffles Chain
With the COVID-19 pandemic upending the restaurant industry, 2020 has officially become the year of the chain-dining side-hustle. Some brands have simply started slinging what they know—like TGI Fridays selling cook-at-home meats, Arby’s selling cold cuts, or Panera selling bread. But other chains have used the explosion in delivery and corresponding acceptance of “ghost kitchens” to launch entirely new concepts out of their existing locations: For instance, Chuck E. Cheese began selling more adult fare under the name Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings; Applebee’s started selling delivery-only chicken as Neighborhood Wings; and now, say hello to Wings of New York, a virtual chicken and waffles chain courtesy of the biggest name in hot dogs.
Nathan’s Famous—yes, the hot dog eating contest people—announced today that they’re using their existing kitchens to launch the “Harlem-style chicken and waffles” chain Wings of New York on UberEats, DoorDash, Grubhub, and Postmates. The virtual restaurant is now available in the New York area, but Nathan’s plans to start expanding to other parts of the country “in the coming weeks.”
“We are excited to launch Wings of New York and provide our fans with high-quality wings, hand-dipped chicken tenders and Harlem-style malted waffles through delivery,” James Walker, the company’s senior vice president, restaurants, said in the announcement. “We’ve worked non-stop with our team as well as our culinary consultant [James Beard Award winning] chef Mark Miller, to develop the menu with flavors that will resonate well with wings and waffle lovers all over.”
Specifically, those flavors include “over a dozen different wing sauces ranging from Classic Buffalo and Creamy Mild Buffalo to Carolina Reaper and Ghost Pepper,” as well as a signature Buffalo sauce created by Miller. And Miller isn’t the only name Nathan’s is leveraging: The brand also boasts that fries can be “loaded with an assortment of toppings including the NY Cheesesteak fries by Pat LaFrieda.” Meanwhile, waffles—of course—also imply dessert, so expect sweet treats including a Waffle Sundae and a Waffle Shake.
Admittedly, it’s hard to know what to expect coming from a brand known for hot dogs. But the fact that, unlike some of their competitors, Nathan’s is being extremely upfront about the connection between the two brands is reassuring. That said, speaking of competition, you do have to wonder just how many ghost kitchen chicken wing restaurants the market can take. After all, even Wingstop is thinking about switching to thighs because wings are getting too expensive.