There are three things Tricie Scholer wants her restaurant to be known for, and the first should be obvious from its name.
Tricie and her husband Jan have owned Wild Wing Cafe on Washington Road for almost 11 years now. That’s long enough for their son Daniel to become the general manager and another son, Will, to become assistant general manager. One of the things that attracted Tricie to the Wild Wing concept, which she and her family grew accustomed to visiting while on vacation in Charleston, was the food.
“We’ve always loved the food,” Scholer said during a recent afternoon at Wild Wing. “Of course, the wings are a favorite, but we have wonderful chicken fingers that we make our own batter for, both spicy and rookie, and you can put almost any of the flavors on them. And the burgers are fantastic.”
Wild Wing Cafe, she says, likes to switch things up with limited time offers. The football menu, for example, recently came to an end and now they’re gearing up for March Madness with special offers. The popular brunch isn’t happening right now, but should be coming back soon. And, of course, there are daily specials. On Mondays, for instance, customers can get half-priced salads all day long.
“And we also do catering,” she said. “We do have a catering menu but we’ll also stray off the menu and do some other stuff as well.”
Food, naturally, is the first of the three reasons Wild Wing is a success, and the second shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone either.
“We’re not a true bar, but we offer local entertainment as well as some folks traveling through,” Scholer said. “We’ve had some big bands come through.”
That “Wild Wing Circuit” allows Scholer to book some great acts on the rise who just happen to be passing through Augusta on their way to another show. In fact, those kinds of shows provide Scholer with some good stories.
“We’ve had people like Zac Brown here,” she said. “Actually, Zac Brown cooked his own chicken wings back there. I’m probably not supposed to tell anybody, but he used to have a restaurant and he had just sold it, and he loved getting back there in the kitchen and seeing what was going on. This was before they made it big. In fact, he sang the ‘Chicken Fried’ song and I was working that night and, the next day, I heard it on the radio. He was a pretty cool guy.”
Wild Wing Cafe has live music five nights a week. Weeknight shows, mostly acoustic, start around 8 p.m. and weekend shows begin around 10.
While food and music are no brainers when it comes to Wild Wing’s success, patrons might be a little surprised at what Scholer considers just as important.
“We try to stay really involved in the community, and we like to do whatever we can to help the community,” she said. “We have the big JD Paugh ride two weeks after Masters but we do have a lot of smaller charity functions that we do all year round.”
The way it works is that an organization will designate a night and invite people to eat at Wild Wing.
“Then we’ll sell armbands that allow them to get a special and we’ll also donate a percentage of sales,” she explained. “For the juvenile diabetes event, they even arrange for bands to come and it’s a whole Saturday afternoon event. It’s really awesome.”
That community involvement is just part of Scholer’s plan to be known as more than a bar. Yes, they have 20 taps, lots of bottles, and a great rotation of bands, but they love families and kids just as much as they love other aspects of the business.
“We like the family atmosphere of it,” Scholer said. “Kids are welcome. There’s never too much noise in here for us.”