Texas Restaurant Giant Creates Runaway Quick-Service Hit Roosters Run

Willie's Grill & Icehouse Launches Successful Virtual Brand Specializing in Delivery-only Chicken Menu

Three weeks after launching the virtual brand Roosters Run, Willie's Grill & Icehouse ran the numbers: The Texas giant had another bona fide hit on their hands. 

Today, Roosters Run operates out of every single one of Willie's 19 locations across the state--but Willie's guests won't see a Roosters Run menu inside the Icehouse. A delivery-only restaurant, Roosters Run is a ghost kitchen or virtual brand, specializing in 12-hour Shiner Bock-brined Chicken Wings, along with a handful of other chicken dishes, all actually created in Willie's scratch-made kitchen. When customers open their Roosters Run orders, delivered by DoorDash, UberEats, or another third-party service, they see the new Roosters Run logo and not a trace of Willie's now-iconic signage.

For Willie's, the goal of Roosters Run was always to generate the revenue of an entirely separate restaurant without ever actually building one. So far, that goal has been met--and projections forecast even greater growth for the new brand in the coming months.

As chicken prices soar--the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts wholesale poultry prices will increase 15 to 18% this year--Roosters Run keeps the consumer's cost low by prioritizing combo meals and absorbing the cost of the included drinks instead of raising prices across the board. The move marks a departure for Willie's, as the Icehouse has never offered combo meals--and still doesn't.

Roosters Run offers a simple but compelling menu: 12-hour Shiner Bock-brined Chicken Wings, featuring eight sauces and dry-rub options, including Backyard BBQ, Buttery Garlic Parm, Lemon Pepper Tango, Rajun Cajun, Tangy Honey Garlic, Bayou Buffalo, Smoky Chili Willie, and Texas Fire; Texas-Sized Tenders and Tender Bites, hand-cut and hand-breaded; the Spicy Rooster, featuring two fat tenders topped with house-made slaw, sweet pickles, and hot Cajun Fire Sauce in between two thick pieces of Texas toast; and the Texas Fried Chicken Sandwich, crispy fried chicken breast smothered in house-made pimento cheese, topped with crispy bacon, lettuce, and tomato, all drizzled with roasted jalapeño mayo on Texas toast. Seasoned Fries serve as the crisp, savory side.  

Restaurants have had to innovate to survive over the last several years. Ghost kitchens and virtual brands emerged as ways for restaurants to increase profits and cut costs--and the trend shows no signs of slowing. According to Upserve, digital ordering and delivery have grown 300% faster than dine-in traffic since 2014, and 60% of U.S. consumers order delivery or takeout once a week.

"We didn't rush into what the Willie's Grill & Icehouse interpretation of a ghost kitchen would be, and all of our diligent research, creativity, and commitment to quality has resulted in Roosters Run," said Greg Lippert, CEO of Willie's Restaurants. "Willie's specializes in connecting the traditions Texans love with modern comfort and convenience, and Roosters Run is just one more illustration of that beloved balance." 

Media Contact: Rachel Austin, rachel@hometownsocial.net

Source: Willie's Grill and Icehouse