Chicken wings are the real deal in Clifton Park on Thursdays.
Spicy, hot, mild and barbecued wings are prime bites at the Ravenswood Pub, currently offering a takeout deal that includes a double play.
If people buy 10 Thursday wings, they get 10 free. Twenty wings purchased means a double order, 20 more for free. Big families with big appetites -- and no fear of calories -- can order 50 wings on Thursday nights and take home 50 more for free.
The Ravenswood special is designed for people waiting out COVID-19 in isolation. Managers at other local restaurants also say wings are flying out of their kitchens.
"It's all about giving back to the community," said Ravenswood owner Scott Schreifels. "As long as I'm saving money, I get a better deal on my chicken wings and I can pass that on to the community. They can save some money and get some extra food, that's really all we're doing."
There are plenty of wings for local fryers. Food suppliers across the nation had plenty of poultry ready for the party rush that starts every spring for the NCAA's annual college basketball tournament. When "March Madness" was canceled due to coronavirus concerns, chicken wings and other party products remained in the deep freeze.
Schreifels is glad he can offer such a good deal, which began at the tavern and grill on Route 146 last week. People logged on, called in and and stocked up.
"It was extremely popular," Schreifels said of the first night. "We sold almost 4,000 wings that day in three hours."
For Thursday's wing rush -- and other Thursdays that follow -- Schreifels suggests people order online, pay with credit cards and drive to the tavern to pick up the hot stuff. "They can call us when they get here and we can run it out to their cars," Schreifels said. "You can call the restaurant but it's hard to get through sometimes because the phones are very, very busy."
Sandwiches, wraps and pizzas are other options, but wings are prime movers on Thursdays. Ravenswood offers another wing deal on Sunday: People who order 20 wings get 10 freebies.
"It helps me keep the business afloat, keeps some people working and keeps my community happy," Schreifels said, adding that friends of the tavern are helping out during difficult economic times.
"We have a big customer base and a lot of our customers are saddened they can't come here to eat and drink, so they're trying to support us with takeout and delivery," Schreifels said.
A lot of those customers, Schreifels believes, would have been stopping by for college basketball.
"I think we would have had the best March in history if we had stayed open," he said. "We were having a great year to begin with and March had started off where everything was falling into place with St. Patrick's Day, March Madness, everything was just working out to be a great month for the restaurant industry."
Wings are popular at other local restaurants, which can offer only takeout orders during the health crisis.
"They are selling at a greater clip than they have in recent weeks," said Rory Wilson, owner of the D'Andrea's pizza locations in Saratoga Springs and Wilton. "We've actually made the statement that we are selling more fried product that we thought possible, fried mushrooms, our mozz sticks, french fries, wings, all of it."
Wilson also said the price drop that has come with the large national inventory of chicken wings has helped. "We get 'em and whip them up and have them here for the people," he said.
Wilson and his staffers are whipping up wings every night in Saratoga Springs.
"I was here Tuesday night, we have a special for our large cheese pizza, we were selling wings right along with them," he said. "I had an order of three dozen wings just by itself. There have been more subs, too."
D'Andrea's has a deal in place for bar and restaurant personnel who lost their jobs when dining and drinking places had to close a month ago. Wilson will give them a reduced price for their orders.
At Schenectady's 20 North, wings remain menu favorites.
"We are selling a lot of wings every day during all this," said staffer Patrick McLoughlin. "People seem to love them.
"We're still getting a lot of orders; we seem to have a good fan base around here and they're supporting us," he added.
Like other places, the North Broadway tavern is handling large individual chicken wing orders. A five-dozen wing order, McLoughlin said, is not uncommon.
"We usually have a lunch rush and at 4:30, 5, the phone starts ringing off the hook, usually wings," he said. "We do burgers and sandwiches and everything else, we've been staying pretty busy."
Amsterdam's Rockton House is also packing up wings. "We're doing good, they're selling like crazy," said owner Jim Stevens.
Stevens said he and his staff are used to rushes for chicken wings.
"We've always had real big wing orders," he said. "We've been wing champs quite a few times over the years, that really helps us out."
Contact staff writer Jeff Wilkin at 518-641-8400 or at [email protected]