WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — The day is fairly calm at local drinking and eating establishments prior to the Penn State Nittany Lions invading Kinnick Stadium to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday. But preparations are underway to host Hawk fans on Saturday.
“We’re getting over 10,000 wings ready for the game tomorrow,” said David Anders, owner of the Chicken Coops in West Des Moines, Urbandale and Ankeny. “I thought that was a pretty big number.”
Anders said the cost of chicken wings has tripled over the past two years. He said his customers can expect to pay for more an order of wings, but he is taking less profit just to keep people buying wings.
“Business has been great, I’m up like 35% from pre-COVID, the profit is the problem,” said Anders. “Labor is up, chicken wings are up like crazy.”
He has found success at hiring and retaining his employees, but he has had to pay a premium for cooks, as the competition for their services is really tight. Anders said part of the workforce did not return due to the pandemic, making hiring even more tight.
The Front Row in Clive will be drawing Hawk fans again, now in its 25th season. The place is filled with Hawkeye football and wrestling memorabilia.
“The owner has accumulated it over decades now since we’ve been open over 25 years now,” said Brian Downs, Front Row manager. “Pretty amazing, people are amazed the first time they walk in and see how much Hawkeye stuff we have.”
At the Front Row they are ready for the throngs to come Saturday.
“We’re getting ready for it. We’ve got a full staff,” said Downs. “We’re getting calls off the hook left and right for reservations, which we can’t take unfortunately because we’re so busy.”
A quick take on the game:
“I like Iowa by a touchdown, I think 28-21,” said Anders.
“Of course the Hawks are going to win. I’m predicting somewhere in the 20-13 range,” said Downs.
“I think it’s going to be Hawks by a field goal,” said Nick Vander Zwaag, a Chicken Coop customer from West Des Moines. “Two turnovers by the defenses, Petras will have one pick.”