After a little bit of turbulence, 12 Street Wings opened its doors at 7247 Roosevelt Rd. two weeks ago.
Wings were the thing for co-owners Gerry Logan, 33, of Oak Park and his partner, Varun Goyal, whose family owned Forest Park’s Dunkin’ Donuts at 7200 Circle Ave. for many years. The two were classmates at Oak Park and River Forest High School.
“Wing shops are the fastest growing segment of the restaurant industry,” said Logan.
Initially the partners wanted to open a Wing Stop franchise in Chicago at Chicago Avenue and State Street, but the deal fell through. The location didn’t have enough parking to suit the corporate offices in Dallas.
But the two decided to turn disappointment into determination.
“We decided why not just start our own wing shop?” Logan said. He’s an accountant by training, although his passion is cooking. Goyal got his MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
“It’s easier with a franchise, because they give you a marketing plan and a website and everything,” he acknowledged. “But we decided we could do it.”
One of the appeals of wing restaurants is their draw for both recreational drinkers and families, Logan said. The restaurant is equipped with nine televisions for sporting events. The original bar is refinished to its former luster, and the back dining room is open and remodeled.
The property required a complete gut-remodel, said Assistant Manager Patrick Stern. Fixing up the former Tonik nightclub and Bravo Lounge was a big job that the owners acknowledge took longer than they expected. The property was vacant for a year, and the site had a bad reputation as a bar where police were summoned almost every weekend.
“Are you open yet?’ curious wing lovers asked as they knocked on the door after the signs went up, Stern said.
Construction caused a few delays, and the small kitchen took some getting used to by the cooking staff, Stern said. The eatery will host a grand opening next week with an official ribbon cutting Dec. 14 at 11 a.m.
Logan, a father of two with another child on the way, is still working full time as an accountant at a bank. Goyal just quit his day job as a personal banker to work at the restaurant, Logan said.
Inspired by his father, of Belize ancestry, Logan grew up in Oak Park. His dad oversaw the food service of a large nursing home.
“He would feed about 1,000 people at a time,” Logan said.
“My father always wanted to have his own restaurant,” Logan said. He said his dad encouraged him to crunch numbers for job security, but Logan loves to grill and cook.
“It’s my passion,” he said.
“The influence of the Belize flavors comes in some of the wing sauces,” Logan said. “It’s a country with Spanish, Indian and African cultures.”
Logan draws on these tastes with his mango-habanero and cilantro-lime sauces, he said.
Other parts of the chicken are not left out. Logan said the menu includes all kinds of chicken-based dishes, including sandwiches, salads and wraps – both fried and grilled.
“The grilled wings have a different taste and it gives us a healthier spin,” he said.
Stern said the restaurant prides itself on flavorful sauces and some unexpected desserts, such as fried Coca Cola and fried Snickers bites both built around the funnel cake concept, he said.
Logan and Goyal are hoping their own franchise might be in the future– once they get the kinks worked out of the initial restaurant.
For that reason, lots of care was taken on branding and creating a logo.
The “Wingman” grew from a mascot chicken suit the partners got their claws on. Logan sketched up a chicken-with-attitude in a sports jersey and Forest Park graphic designer Tim Caronti worked up logos and a “look” for the signs, menus and website.
The Wingman has made appearances at Forest Park’s Ribfest, the Opportunity Knocks softball tournament, and was rumored to be strutting Madison Street during the Holiday Walk. Look for Wingman in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Logan said.
“The Wingman is the mascot of 12 Street Wings,” said Stern. “He’s both a wing-man, like your buddy in a bar that helps you meet girls and he’s on jerseys and hands out coupons for discounts,” he said.