Since being forced to move from their previous hot spot at Trolley Square in 2014, the Trolley Wing Company has experienced some growing pains after relocating to the Sugar House district. Frequent patrons of the establishment certainly enjoy the wings being served, but under their current restaurant liquor license, customers also have to purchase food in addition to their alcoholic beverages. This current requirement has put a strain on the tavern due to the small kitchen size and lack of storage space on the premises. In addition, it has morphed the once ‘biker bar’ atmosphere to a more sedate, family friendly hangout. In an effort to accommodate all customers, owner Jess Wilkerson has slated Monday nights, as ‘family-night’ at TWC.
The staff is struggling trying to keep up with the increased volume of food they need to produce out of such a small space and Wilkerson says, folks really miss just being able to come and just get a drink like they could before. Now, TWC must maintain a ratio of 70% of their sales from food.
“When I made the deal for the lease, the city told me I could transfer my liquor license, they told me it would be no problem,” Wilkerson said. “They told me it would take about 9 months but that I would get it, so I kind of took a gamble there because there were 3 other places that wanted to move in there so we had to jump on it. The place had an existing restaurant license, which means you serve all ages, so we decided to go for it with the thought of having it be a 21 and older restaurant.”
Since the move, Wilkerson discovered the area TWC is in, is not zoned for a club license. Based on the square footage and location, TWC is attempting to get a Conditional Use Club license instead. TWC decided against the 21 and older limitation and instead has watched the business skyrocket. A patio was added on for extra seating, the pool table had to be removed and replaced with chairs and even video games were deleted to make way for more space. The demand has exceeded their expectations. Wilkerson says they are literally cooking ten times the amount of chicken they did back at Trolley Square. A good problem to have, you would think.
“We had to create [menu items] that were inexpensive, finger foods so people could come in and hang out all day,” Wilkerson said. “Making people buy food and our kitchen keeping up with it really has maxed us out. Now its time to really push for that liquor license, I want to cater to that late night drinking crowd: I don’t want people to have to go somewhere else because they have to buy food.”
Wilkerson believes the quality of service will go up at TWC once the strain is taken off of the kitchen. He also feels the demand in the area for more bars is huge and he would like to ride that wave and completely differentiate TWC from places like the chain restaurant, Buffalo Wild Wings.
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