Fried chicken restaurant Wishbone closed its University City location on Feb. 19 after 10 years of operation.
The restaurant, which was located at 4034 Walnut St., opened in 2013, replacing Lee's Hoagie House. Wishbone will continue to operate a larger location on S. 13th St., Wishbone Owner Alan Segel told The Daily Pennsylvanian. Wishbone served customers until 10 p.m. from Sundays to Thursdays and until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
"We're merging the two stores into one for our Center City location," Segel said.
Wishbone offered a menu that included buttermilk battered chicken tenders and wings, mac and cheese, salads, biscuits, vintage sodas, and cornbread, along with an array of homemade dipping sauces. The 13th St. location offers the same menu and delivery options as the store near Penn's campus, and it also has a liquor license, Segel said.
Segel added that the University City location's closure was "indirectly related to the pandemic," which changed the "whole economics of running a restaurant." He said that, since the pandemic, delivery persistently made up the majority of sales at the University City location, which made operating a physical storefront "less practical" and led to a "logical decision" to combine both stores.
According to city records, the property license for Wishbone's University City location ended in June of 2022. Segel said a new tenant will be moving into the spot soon that will introduce a "new concept" to the neighborhood.
College senior Will Turner said that a Wishbone employee informed him that the restaurant would close to customers on Feb. 19 when he was picking up food that evening. He said that the restaurant was "only serving chicken and not sandwiches" on Sunday because it was the business's last night.
While Turner said there was no sign informing customers of the restaurant's closure, he said that there could have been competition with Raising Cane's, a fast food Louisiana-based chicken finger restaurant that opened its first Philadelphia location in May of 2022 at 3925 Walnut St.
"With Raising Cane's opening up a block away for half the price, I am not surprised that [Wishbone] could not compete," Turner said. "Every time I went in there, there usually was not anybody else."
Students expressed disappointment that the beloved restaurant was closing.
"We all felt really sad and shocked when we heard the news, since we live right next to Wishbone, and it has been a big part of our college life since we were freshmen," Wharton senior Edward Yao said.
Turner said that "it's sad that it's going away, because it's delicious."
The restaurant's location on 13th St. in Midtown Village opened in 2016 as Wishbone's second spot following the University City business.
Wishbone joins the closing of other popular University City restaurants last year. Recently, the family-owned Korean restaurant Koreana closed its doors in April of 2022. University City staple Distrito also announced its closure in July of 2022, citing a lack of demand and an inability for the restaurant to sustain itself financially.
"We had a great time. It was a great run," Segel said, "and it led to a bigger restaurant."