Though the franchise headquarters is located in Destin, Island Wing Company opened its first two restaurants in Alabama. The bar and grill opened its third location Sept. 5 closer to home, at the 98 Palms shopping center in Destin.
This is not your usual wing joint. Island Wing Company's slogan is "Get Baked", and there isn't a fryer in the kitchen. Everything on the menu — from wings and fries to mahi tacos and burgers — is either baked or grilled. Franchise director of operations Carl Simpson told The Log that helps assure there is something on the menu for everyone.
"That's a huge thing to people these days — the reduction of calories, the lack of grease and the enhanced flavor,” Simpson said. “You just don't taste grease. If you've had our green beans or if you taste our fries, you can tell they taste like the actual vegetable themselves. They’re great,"
Members of the operations team for the franchise come from a range of service-sector jobs. Simpson came from the sports bar business before joining Island Wing Company. He brought much of that experience to the restaurant, which features more than 50 beers on tap, a full bar and a multitude of big-screen TVs playing sports.
Founder Eric Jenrich was also a founder and one of the original owners of the Tropical Smoothie Café franchise. From that chain, he brought similar décor, including the bright greens, blues and yellows.
"(Jenrich) loves food. He likes tropical vacations," Simpson said. "Basically, (the restaurant) is a nice little trip to an island somewhere."
Franchisees are in the process of opening a franchise in Tallahassee by the end of 2013. If expansion goes as planned, Island Wing Company could soon be one of the South's favorite wing spots.
"We're going to try to do about 100 stores in 10 years," Simpson said.
Island Wing Company is open 11 a.m. to approximately midnight every day. Check out the menu, as well as catering and franchise information online at Islandwing.com.