Wing Dome has announced plans to open an expanded store in Kirkland early this fall, which could be right around the time the NFL season doesn't start.
A labor dispute between the NFL and a few of its star players sparked the current lockout, now in its 98th day. The deadline for a replacement contract is looming: If team owners and the players union can't agree on how to share billions of dollars in revenue, the coming football season will be cancelled.
"We're eternal optimists," Wing Dome's director of operations Phil Warchol says. "Like everybody else, we're looking forward to the NFL all shaking hands."
Wing Dome has four Seattle stores; the Kirkland renovations were launched in response to "guests' requests for larger sports viewing parties and private gatherings."
If there's no football to watch, Warchol says, "there are other sports games."
Warchol's perspective isn't shared by everyone in the wing industry. According to a restaurant securities analyst quoted by Nation's Restaurant News, wing chain Buffalo Wild Wings stands to lose 15 percent of its weekly sales if pro football scraps its season.
Buffalo Wild Wings, which has seven locations around Portland, has started a "Save Our Season" promotional campaign, rewarding customers who lend their names to a petition asking both sides to resolve the current dispute. If the parties reach agreement by July 20, every wing eater who signed the petition will receive six free wings. More than 16,000 people have signed the petition.
Warchol is confident the NFL's troubles won't disrupt the Seattle wing scene.
"It's pretty solid," he says of local demand for chicken wings. "And it's even getting more so."