Life At The Wing: Spartanburg, SC Edition

Since 2005, Wild Wing Cafe in Spartanburg, SC has graced 111 West Main Street with 14 years of live music, great food, and wild memories. However, this Summer, the location will move to the old Citizens and Southern National Bank on West Main, one of the most cherished and loved buildings in the City. With the move coming up sooner than later, we wanted to dive into the current Spartanburg staff and get their point of view on what it’s like to be a member of Wild Wing and how the upcoming move will only make the Wild Wing Cafe Spartanburg experience even Wilder.  

Wild Wing Cafe Spartanburg will be moving to 148 W. Main Street Mid-Summer 2019

David “Pickle” McNeely, the current General Manager of the Spartanburg store, has been with Wild Wing for 11 years. After a few years of serving, he started Key Hourly Managing in 2011 and the rest is history. His love for the Wild Wing Brand as well has the Spartanburg location itself is pretty remarkable. It’s not often that you come across someone as passionate as McNeely when it comes to managing a restaurant. When asked what his favorite part is about being a member of the Wing, he started beaming. “I love my job”, says McNeely. “There’s a lot of people that I’ve seen grow up or I’ve helped develop over the years that went on to do great things. I’ve got a bunch of people all over the state now that I’ve helped grow. I wouldn’t trade any of that for the world.”

David McNeely, General Manager of Wild Wing Cafe- Spartanburg

The current location already brings in a lot of different people making the restaurant experience from the staff point of view more fun.  “Every day is so different. This location is just not like other restaurants. I’ve worked in restaurants where you could set your watch to the same thing everyday- the same regulars came in, did the same sales, but here- it’s crazy. I mean, tonight I’ve got a 250 top of sorority girls and I’m selling 1200 wings, and I’m like ya know that’s not a normal Thursday for others” McNeely says.  
With no day being the same, that only means that the City of Spartanburg itself is changing which, in the staff’s eyes, keeps the job exciting and makes the move across Morgan Square even more fun to look forward to. On and off again for 9 years, Headwait Ryan Rogers is enthusiastic about the move because of the possibility of new clients. “I’m very excited about the new location,” says Ryan. “It’s a bittersweet move because I’ve been here for so long and I think a new location will bring some new faces in.” Over the years, downtown Spartanburg has become an area that more people are visiting and wanting to explore.  “More people come downtown now. Businesses, different hotels, more people coming from out of town- I definitely see a shift in the people coming in.”

Ryan Rogers, Headwait and Training Bartender

Another long time Wild Wing Employee, Ellet McCall, is excited about the move because of what it means to the town of Spartanburg. “I cried when I got the email [about the move],” she says.  McCall actually worked at Wild Ace Pizza and Pub, the last business that was in the Citizens and Southern National Bank building, before she came over to Wild Wing. When it comes to the new location, she says that  “there’s going to be a whole new atmosphere change. I’m a Spartanburg native. My family has been here for 5 generations. That building is extremely important to Spartanburg so I’m excited to see the fact that there’s actually a business that can put the money into it and take care of it and give it the justice it deserves. There’s something about it that people love.”

 Longtime native of Spartanburg Ellet McCall is excited about the old Citizens and Southern National Bank becoming the new location of Wild Wing Cafe.

The excitement of the move is one thing- but what happens in the current building to make Wild Wing a staple is what really should be creating a buzz. Over the past 14 years, different types of individuals, whether it be staff members or visitors, have come through the doors of the Spartanburg Wing. There are so many memories that are held within the 111 Main Street location and an important aspect to creating those memories is the staff that has been there throughout the years.
It takes an eclectic, strong staff to work in an atmosphere that is Wild Wing. When asked about what it takes to make Wild Wing thrive,  longtime General Manager McNeely was quick to share his thoughts.  “We’re that happy blend where we have a strong brand but we’re still really individual,” he says. “The people, we have just a wide range of people- it takes so many different people to run one of these things. There’s not a cookie cutter wild wing employee. It takes the sports buff, it takes the bartender that can sling drinks, it takes the college kids. It’s such a blend of people, it’s good, I like it.”
This blend of people creates a great atmosphere to work in. Line Cook by day and Doorman by night,  Reggie Gist, (also deemed “THE GUY” and “OLD FAITHFUL” by General Manager McNeely), says that his favorite part of Wild Wing is the environment. After working in the kitchen for three years, he definitely knows what it takes to be able to handle hard situations. “You can have fun while you’re working.” he says. However, with the fun comes hard work and being able to work in high volume situations. When it comes to the kitchen, he says that you’ve got to have patience. “It gets rough back there. You’ve got to have that mental mentality like -just get through it and take it one minute at a time. You have to be a team and be family back there”. If someone is having a hard time he likes to get with that person and see what they can do to make them better. “I’m able to take the person and tweak em’. I can see their strong points and place them in area suited better for them.”

 Line Cook & Doorman Reggie Gist, known as “Old Faithful” is very excited about the new location

Headwait Ellet McCall agrees with Gist when it comes to being able to handle situations. When asked what one tip she would give a new staff member joining the team,  she had an answer that not many would expect from a server that slings chicken wings. It’s more than just the hustle and bustle of being a server in a wing joint according to McCall.  “You have to figure it out- access the situation, and figure out how to overcome it when it comes to problems or sudden crazy situations at work. If you just want a job where you can just ‘be here’ and get paid then this is not it,” she says confidently. However, when it comes to wanting to work and having a good time, McCall says that Wild Wing Cafe Spartanburg is that type of vibe.  “If you want to work, we have a really, REALLY good time. We always have fun. Even if it’s one of those ‘IN THE WEEDS LIKE CRAZY’ shifts, we’re always going to have fun. Life or death, it’s just chicken wings and beer and we know that at the end of the day.”
It’s not always about the crazy shifts at the wing. It’s also about the family that this place itself creates. One of the newer members of the Spartanburg location, Kailin Bethel, who started back in August as a server, has really come to think of Wild Wing as more than just a serving job. Her favorite part about the job is her fellow staff and the patrons she gets to meet every shift. “I love the laid back aspect of Wild Wing. We hang out on the weekends if we’re not working” she says. When it comes to work she knows it’s time to be serious but that you can still have fun. “The long hours are kind of hard. You have to be fit for it. You know if you come here you’re going to have to work. Just do your best whenever you’re working”. She loves working at the Wing so much that after she graduates College in May and moves back to Columbia, she’ll be  transferring to another Wild Wing while she starts her new post-college job search.
The staff and the connection between them isn’t the only thing that makes the Wing the place to be- it’s also the people that come in to have a good time and enjoy our restaurant.  When asked about his favorite part of working at Wild Wing, Headwait Ryan Rogers says that he looks forward to serving new people everyday. “I like being able to interact with new  people. Sometimes, you know, seeing people come in and you can tell they had a bad day- I try to do my best to make sure that when they leave here that they leave having a good day. That’s what I try to do.” Rogers actually took a different job for 3 years out of his 9 year stint with Wild Wing and when figuring out where to go after that was over, he immediately thought of Wild Wing.  One of the reasons why was the patrons. “I love the people here, I love the place, I love the management- no reason for me not to come here.”

 Pre-Renovation Views of the Citizens and Southern National Bank building where Wild Wing will be relocating to Mid-Summer 2019

With everyone being excited about the move,  there is still sadness that comes with change. There are so many memories that comes with the building but so many newer ones to be made. Headwait Ellet McCall had a great way of putting what the current building means to them into words. “I connect with this store emotionally in a different way. You’re looking at people who have been married then divorced while coming here,  or people who have had a baby while this was their regular spot or other different life changes. I actually attach Wild Wing to other things than just wings and beer and a job. ”

 Pre-Renovation Views of the First and Second Floor

Everyone at Wild Wing Cafe is amped up about what’s in store for them in the future when it comes to the new location. “The servers are super excited. They agreed to dust tables in the new basement, pretty much fighting over who would go, just so they can see the store” says General Manager McNeely. That only goes to show what surprises we have lying in the new building that will soon house Wild Wing Cafe,  Spartanburg. Come check out the current location and look out for our new location at 148 W. Main Mid-Summer 2019!