Introducing It’s Just Wings. A quick glance at their website shows a simple chicken wing restaurant that delivers food through DoorDash. If you dive a little bit deeper and read their “About Us” page, you’ll see almost immediately that they’re owned by a parent company; the very same parent company that owns such names like Chili’s and Maggiano’s. That parent company is called Brinker International and they have been making moves since the start of the pandemic.
Brinker (NYSE: EAT) is one of the world’s leading casual dining restaurant companies. Founded by Norman Brinker in Dallas, Texas, we’ve ventured far from home, but stayed true to our roots. We own, operate or franchise more than 1,600 restaurants in 29 countries and two territories under the names Chili’s® Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy®. Our passion is making people feel special and we hope you feel that passion each and every time you visit one of our restaurants or our home office.Brinker International, brinker.com/.
That’s right, It’s Just Wings is nothing more than a Ghost Kitchen. Brinker International saw that customers weren’t eating out at restaurants as often as they were ordering delivery so they created It’s Just Wings to fill that need. What the customer sees when they order food is essentially a new chicken wing restaurant; however, the food they receive would come right out of a Chili’s or Maggiano’s kitchen. Same ingredients, same chefs. Pretty smart move, if you ask me.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the illusion of choice presented itself. You can walk into any gas station and only really make a choice between two brands, Coca-Cola or Pepsi. There are a number of companies that own multiple restaurant chains around the country: DineBrands, Darden, and Roark Capital Group just to name a few. While not technically monopolies, it does feel like we aren’t really making our own choices. It’s not as simple as choosing a different restaurant, we now have to dig a little deeper to make sure what we buy is truly coming from a competitor and not just a different name serving the same product.
More often than not, customers just want a different type of food and don’t care too much where it comes from. Want a fine dining experience? By all means, eat at Maggiano’s. If the situation calls for something more casual, Chili’s will suffice. But if we want to make a concerted effort to support our local businesses and restaurants, we have to be sure that the “new restaurant” in town is just that and not another tentacle in what may be a giant Corporate Octopus.