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Not the corporate feel: East Coast Wings on Tate is more than just a chain

by Anna Warner

From the free spirit vibe to the willingly hard working servers, East Coast Wings on Tate Street has broken through the stereotypical restraints of franchise dining.

There is something about the smooth vibe of the environment that invites in a variety of people to experience dining that averages a nine out of 10 rating on Yelp. East Coast Wings on Tate caters to every guest’s appetite making it a popular student hangout whether it be after a UNCG basketball game or a night out on the town.

“The college kids are always full of energy after a sporting event victory at UNCG and they bring that uplifting energy into this restaurant. Game nights often come with long wait times; after a soccer or basketball game we have seen a wait time as long as two hours and 15 minutes,” said manager Rouben Keshguerian.

Keshguerian is not the only manager in this establishment. Before I grabbed my belongings to leave, he motioned me to sit down and talk to his father, “Papa Kesh” who recently handed down the management of the restaurant to his two sons.

“The reason I opened East Coast Wings here is due partly to the fact that my sons were taking classes at UNCG and later my daughter started taking classes as well. I felt there was no place on Tate Street that offered an environment where people can hangout, “said Kesh.

When you sit down there is an authentic New York City appeal from the open patio to the exposed brick on the walls. The college feel comes from the charming picture of UNCG’s mascot, Sparty Spartan.

“My goal is simple, I want people to come in here and be themselves whatever that might be. If it means you are up singing on top of the tables, that’s fine with me or if it is coming in here to do your homework, that’s fine too,” he said. “Hey, if a guest needs help with their homework, I want them to feel comfortable enough to ask me for guidance. If that’s what it takes to keep them smiling, that’s what I’ll do.”

Happiness is a side that is served along with every dish. Smiles are to be worn from the waiting staff and the guests. If “Papa Kesh” looks around to see that there is not enough of a positive vibe, he will hand out complementary mini pizzas known as “pizzadias.”

“I don’t want this to just be a restaurant for the guests and I don’t want this to just be a job for the servers, I want everyone to be smile. Not just smile because they have to, smile because they want to and smile because they are happy to be where they are,” said Kesh.

According to the waiting staff, there are simply two rules: Smile all the time and never keep your hands in your pockets for there is always work to be done. As a reminder to obey the no hands in pockets rule, “Papa Kesh” sews up the pockets of his jeans.

The most popular dish on the menu is none other than the “Insanity Wing” known for causing frantic freak outs from anyone who dares to accept the challenge. I was not so bold to try this, however luckily for my entertainment there was a willing contestant ready to take the heat. Before anyone can eat the single intimidating chicken wing, the guest must put on gloves. The spices that are in the sauce seep into the pores causing burning if exposed to skin.

In return for tackling the kick of the “Insanity Wing”, guests might have their picture taken and put on a digital monitor in the restaurant known as “The Wall of Flame.”

Even in the heat of the moment, the atmosphere never proves to be hostile or tiring. The servers are friendly and open for a reason.

“No one wants to go into a restaurant where the server has an attitude and they are open about how dissatisfied they are with their job,” said Kesh. “If I ever hear one of the employees talking about how they don’t have enough money to pay rent, I will give them money out of pocket. If an employee doesn’t have a place to stay, I bring them to my house and tell them to pick a bed. I don’t want anything in return; I want them to want to be here,” he said. “You can’t be happy here if you are worried about money.”

I ordered the Honey-Barb Chicken Sandwich which consisted of grilled chicken with Mozzarella cheese and a decent amount of Barbecue sauce. The basis of my positive dining experience was the combination of an upbeat atmosphere and quick, competent service. The carefully prepared food and the upbeat attitudes of the staff makes this restaurant much more than a simple wing joint off Tate. !

WANNA go?

This East Coast Wings is located at 338 South Tate Street, Greensboro. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. – 12 a.m., Monday – Saturday, and 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sunday.

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