Nothing stays the same forever.
The wing joint/sports bar Wings Etc. has more than 40 locations. When I moved to Elkhart back in 2003, they only had two. The original was in a plaza on Grape Road in Mishawaka across the street from the mall. Last year the original Wings Etc. closed its doors and moved… about 300 feet south to the corner of the same plaza. I took some time last week to visit the flagship Wings Etc. and check out how the new digs were working out.
I was thinking about the first time I walked into the Wings Etc. here on Grape Road. It was a Saturday back in 2003 where I sandwiched my lunch between working out at Pinnacle Athletic Club and paying 33 cents an hour to watch “Lord of The Rings – The Two Towers” at the dollar theater. I remember being blown away with the size of their wings, as many places didn’t start selling jumbo type wings yet.
Apparently they moved to the corner for some more space in their dining room and to add a patio on the side. The bar is longer and turns 90 degrees at the end now. Other than that it still looks like every other Wings Etc. that I’ve been to.
I did notice all of the pictures on the wall from the people completing the “Wall of Flame” challenge were missing. I was hoping they didn’t get rid of all those from the last couple decades. I asked and the bartender assured me they were in a box in the back. They are working on some sort of album to display.
I took the opportunity to also try a new flavor of wing they are serving there. Wings Etc. now has dry rubs they sprinkle on the chicken. A few months ago I tried the Caribbean jerk and didn’t care much for it as it was way too potent. Probably a product of too much rub applied rather than the spices themselves.
This time I got the lime pepper. The taste was much better. Since it is a rub, no extra moisture from a sauce is added, so you get an extra crispy skin on the wing. They are coated in oil and taste just like the rub says – pepper and lime. The pepper gives it a nice kick while the lime is very light, kind of like the taste of lime you get when you dip a slice in your bottle of beer and turn it over (not that I would actually put fruit in my beer or anything like that). I can see adding it to my sauce rotation when I visit in the future.
There seems to be a million Wings Etc. locations around us today. It’s kind of like the McDonald’s of wings in this area. It’s hard to believe that 12 years ago there were only two restaurants and it would be considered a local place where out-of-towners could get a taste of the area. Now, Wings Etc. can be found as far away as North Carolina. I think it’s kind of cool that people that far away can get a taste of Michiana.
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