Move aside, Allegro — Wishbone is the newest player in the lucrative late-night crave-busting trade.
Started by two Drexel scholars trained in France, the fried chicken restaurant between 40th and 41st streets on Walnut Street just opened its doors last October, and in late August extended its closing time from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
General Manager Erica Hope made the executive decision to change the store’s hours, believing that the home-style, handcrafted chicken and mac ‘n’ cheese would lure in hungry partiers.
“Drunk college kids are coming here instead of Wawa because they know good food when they see and smell it,” Hope said. “Fast food should be given the same consideration as food served in a four-star restaurant. That’s why we don’t serve ketchup. We make our own sauce, and it tastes goddamn awesome.”
With the extended hours, Wishbone has become a new hub for Penn students, threatening the popularity of old favorites.
“The restaurant image has definitely changed, especially with the late night BYOs,” College sophomore and Wishbone employee Brandon Shackleford said. “It’s shifted to compete with Allegro’s and Wawa, but has a more upscale feel,” he added, as he motioned toward the stained glass ornaments and tree branches suspended from the ceiling.
“A lot of Penn kids come here because it is kind of expensive. It’s a place for buying expensive food — perfect for Penn students,” one Wishbone employee said.
At $8 a pound, Hope acknowledged that Wishbone’s mac ‘n’ cheese probably is not at the national average, but only because the restaurant does not serve the average consumer.
“We love Penn — its full of smart, beautiful students,” Hope said. “Not everyone gets that they’re paying for quality, handmade food. Penn kids understand flavor profile. If they didn’t, we’d be downtown where the 20 and 30 somethings get us — but up here, even the 18 year olds get us.”
Although some Penn students are still unfamiliar with the young establishment, those in the know have been taking full advantage of Wishbone’s extended hours. “I’ve eaten here during the late-nights a lot because it’s just so convenient,” Penn sophomore Eli Cehelyk said. “Everyone loves it.”
Future Wishbone initiatives to bring in more Penn students include hosting more open mic nights and extending Thursday and Friday bonfire nights into the winter, for which the restaurant has already purchased outdoor heaters.
“We always knew we wanted to do [late nights] — it was just about getting the team together,” Hope said, attributing the restaurant’s success to the commitment of her staff. “Once we got that dream team together, we were ready to swing chicken out the door. We’re whatever Penn wants to make of us.”
Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the owners were from France. They were trained in France. The article has also been updated to remove a statement about the restaurant's weekend profitability. The DP regrets the errors.
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