WING JUNKIES — What started with a food truck finds perfect home in Orange

Published 12:30 am Wednesday, July 27, 2022

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Wing Junkies is a fast, casual dining establishment offering innovative Southern dishes in a friendly atmosphere.

Owner Seth Hancock has operated a food truck for several years. His new brick-and-mortar location in Orange offers diners an opportunity to enjoy his signature wings, fries and new menu items in a restaurant environment.

The back-of-the-house is staffed by two cooks: Willie Gayles Jr., whose career in culinary arts spans 28 years, and Kieron Forward, who has been working for Hancock for the past two months.

“I love what I do; I love to see the smiles on customers’ faces,” Gayles said. “I don’t serve any sloppy plates. I treat the food like it was mine.”

Forward enjoys working in the restaurant business, as well. When asked to recommend a dish to customers, he usually suggests Sweet Wham and Nashville Spicy Chicken.

Hancock previously secured locations at Parkdale Mall in Beaumont and Central Mall in Port Arthur.

He said the location in Parkdale was so successful it “made history.” However, his store manager went back to school, so he said he was forced to close.

The location at Central Mall was never able to develop a consistent customer base, he said.

Hancock’s Orange location and food truck are his focus now, and his goal, as an independent restaurant owner, is consistency.

“My main thing is keeping the quality where it’s at,” he said. “I don’t want to lose quality. I’m still hands-on with every piece of chicken.”

He notes the quality of service can offer his customers with a restaurant.

“It makes people feel at home,” he said. “We get a lot of people from Lake Charles to stop in. They always say, ‘you make us feel at home.’ One thing we can’t stray away from as a small business is giving that home touch vibe.”

Wing Junkies in Orange has a dining room that seats 26 and several televisions. For customers seeking a respite from the recent heat wave, central air conditioning is always running.

It has been open for two months, and the dining room has been at capacity numerous times.

Nikolas Boyett of Orange is one of those loyal customers who has patronized the business.

“I’ve been following him since he was at Parkdale Mall, I went there a few times,” Boyett said. “When he opened up the shop here, everyday for lunch I would just come in. My favorite is the honey glaze, because I’m a BBQ junkie. The fries, that’s the biggest thing, that sauce he puts on them.”

Additions like the beloved fry sauce are quintessential Wing Junkies.

Hancock describes himself as an innovator, one with a mottos: “always try something different.”

“I’m branching out now and doing different things,” he said.” So, we got Chicken and Waffles, and a rice bowl called the Pollo Delight. It’s a bowl based off of Sweet Wham.

“I’m not going to stray away from what I started with, but I want to give people a few different varieties.”

To that end, he has created a “secret menu” where customers can order items like these. For the Pollo Delight, chicken is fried, and served with rice and topped with a sweet and spicy chili sauce.

Chicken and Waffles is a sweet dish. Waffles are topped with powdered sugar and served with seasoned fried chicken. In preparation for his switch to 24-hour service in September, he now offers breakfast and a lighter option chicken wrap.

To try Wing Junkies, visit the restaurant in Orange at 1551 N. 16th Street, order online, call 409-790-9961 or visit Hancock’s food truck.

His next appearance will be during the Orangetober Festival Oct. 7-8 at the Riverside Pavilion on Simmons drive.

— By Shari Hardin