UPTOWN — After more than a year of pandemic-caused delays, BadaBing Wings is open in Uptown and promising wings “you’ll never fuhgettabout” — if you can get your hands on them.
BadaBing Wings opened Jan. 3 at 4754 N. Clark St. and has seen early success, running out of wings on some days, owner Jose Lopez said. That’s due to a combination of early neighborhood interest and a nationwide chicken wing shortage during the pandemic.
On opening weekend, Lopez was down to the last few wings in his shop by the end of Sunday.
“Before I opened, I posted pictures [of the wings on social media,] and people started following me,” Lopez said. “When I opened, people immediately started coming in.”
After spending much of his life in the restaurant industry, Lopez started working to open BadaBing Wings in 2020, when he signed a lease for a shop on Clark Street just south of Lawrence Avenue.
Since then, the business owner has endured supply shortages, delivery logjams and a lack of workers. Some of those issues persist, but the early returns from customers has Lopez hopeful his wing shop will be a hit.
“I just want to make great food and be a part of the community,” Lopez said. “I took a risk during COVID, I know. My whole life is into this. I’m just praying that hopefully it goes good.”
Lopez began working in restaurants at 14, when he went to work at Renaldi’s, then owned by his godfather. From there, Lopez managed pizza places in the area and helped his friend open the the children’s recreation business Fun Zone in suburban Downers Grove.
Lopez handled the business’ concessions, and Fun Zone had adult customers coming just to order takeout wings and pizza, he said. Fun Zone closed during the pandemic, but the experience gave Lopez confidence to open a food business of his own.
“The restaurant industry has always been in my heart,” Lopez said. “Wings, I’ve specialized in for years. I just wanted to make a good brand.”
Lopez got the name BadaBing Wings from the adult-only club in “The Sopranos” and gave the business the tagline “wings you’ll never fuhgettabout.” The menu and restaurant have a gangster theme, which Lopez said he decided to lean into after learning his Clark Street building has ties to Al Capone and his gang.
But opening the business meant facing the realities of the pandemic.
After signing the lease in November 2020, Lopez faced multiple hurdles in setting up his space, he said. That included a shortage and price hikes on lumber and copper, plus supply chain issues for kitchen equipment.
Then there is the chicken wing shortage, which has caused a skyrocketing of wing prices during the pandemic. That led Lopez to keep inventory tight, causing some days where he sold out.
BadaBing Wings has had to close some days due to labor and wing shortages.
The issue could be helped if Lopez was willing to order different products. But he has stuck with his Halal, jumbo wings, which are of the best quality and provide consistency for customers, he said. Lopez is absorbing as much of the cost of his wings as possible, he said.
“I want people to love the food, and I don’t want to hurt their pocket,” Lopez said. “If the texture changes, people are going to know.”
While waiting on supply chain issue, Lopez took his time to perfect his product and came up with unique items.
Lopez’s “Capone sauce” is a take on traditional buffalo sauce that has a sweetness with a tangy heat. The “Bing secret sauce” has a thousand island base with hints of honey mustard and a smoky aftertaste.
BadaBing also serves as “pizza fritta” dessert, which is pizza dough tossed in powdered sugar and cinnamon.
Lopez said he hopes to meet more local customers on Super Bowl Sunday and ingratiate his business to the community even more.
“Hopefully it’s busy,” he said. “If people do order wings here, they’ll love it.”
BadaBing Wings is open 3-9 p.m. Sundays, 3-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 3-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
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