Chattanooga has its own typeface. It has its own whiskey. Now, two local entrepreneurs want to make the Scenic City known for another staple—gourmet chicken wings.
Brandon Ellis is the business brains—he loves spreadsheets and numbers. And Jernard Wells is the chef, who creates the special sauces and gourmet recipes.
In the next two months, the duo will be opening two restaurants—Chattanooga Wing Company and Chattanooga Wing Express.
"There's so much to offer here," Wells said. "We figured, why not also offer a wing that's specifically designed for Chattanooga. We created several steps that we take our chicken through before it ever meets the plate, which is what makes our wings different."
Step No. 1: Marinate in special, hand-crafted, original marinade.
Step No. 2: Smoke wing.
Step No. 3: Grill wing.
Step No. 4: Marinate again.
Step No. 5: Flash-fry wing.
Step No. 6: Put in wok, remove grease, add sauce.
On Oct. 14, Ellis and Wells will open the Chattanooga Wing Express at McCallie Avenue and Willow Street. The team said they want to help revitalize the area where the McCallie Avenue location will be.
On Nov. 18, they will open another store, called Chattanooga Wing Company, off Highway 58 near Harrison Bay.
What started as a food truck has turned into two restaurants. The duo met about three months ago, and from there things moved quickly.
"It really just exploded one day," Wells said. "It was a long-needed and desired thing."
Both Wells and Ellis are hardworkers, they said. Creating a successful business requires a strong back.
Ellis is from Franklin, Ky. He grew up on a farm. He originally came to Chattanooga in 2006 for a discipleship program called Teen Challenge.
From there, he enrolled at Chattanooga State and started a business called Phoenix Custodial Services.
That company continues to do well, with clients downtown such as Lamp Post Group and Capital Mark Bank, Ellis said.
Wells is from Mississippi. He moved to Chattanooga about six years ago.
He opened his first restaurant when he was 15 years old in his mother's kitchen. By the time he turned 19, he had his own restaurant with his own brick-and-mortar location.
He paid his way through culinary school, and one of his instructors convinced him to travel the world and continue studying, he said.
"I would find whoever is known as the best chef in that area, and I would tell them I would work for free if they would teach me their style of cuisine and cooking," he said.
Since then, he has worked with Tyler Perry and Paula Deen, he said.
Then, he was "bit by the competition bug," he said.
He has competed and won national competitions.
In November, he will compete to get a world title.
The duo said they support everything Chattanooga, from the people to the beer and whiskey. Some of their recipes include beer from the Mocassin Bend Brewing Company and whiskey from Chattanooga Whiskey.
The noodles they serve are called "Chatta-noodles."
The decor will be Chattanooga-centric, with an airforce/pilot theme.
"We say we are taking the wing to all new heights," Wells said. "The wing will never be the same again."
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