BadaBing Wings Opens in Downtown, Sees Early Success Despite Wing Shortages, Price Increases
UPTOWN — After more than a year of pandemic-caused delays, BadaBing Wings is open in Uptown, promising “you’ll never bother” wings — if you can get your hands on them.
BadaBing Wings opened Jan. 3 at 4754 N. Clark St. and had early success, running out of wings on some days, owner Jose Lopez said. This is due to a combination of early interest from the neighborhood and a nationwide shortage of chicken wings during the pandemic.
On opening weekend, Lopez had only the last wings left from her boutique by the end of the day on Sunday.
“Before opening, I posted photos [of the wings on social media,] and people started following me,” Lopez said. “When I opened, people immediately started coming in.”
After spending much of his life in the restaurant industry, Lopez started working to open BadaBing Wings in 2020, when he signed a lease for a store on Clark Street, just south of Lawrence Avenue.
Since then, the business owner has suffered supply shortages, delivery blockages and a lack of workers. Some of those problems persist, but early customer feedback has Lopez hoping his wing shop will be a success.
“I just want to make great food and be part of the community,” Lopez said. “I took a risk during COVID, I know that. My whole life is in there. I just pray it goes well.
Lopez started working in restaurants at age 14, when he went to work at Renaldi, then owned by his godfather. From there, Lopez managed pizzerias in the area and helped his friend open the children’s entertainment company Fun Zone in the suburb of Downers Grove.
Lopez managed the company’s concessions, and Fun Zone had adult customers who came in just to order take-out wings and pizza, he said. Fun Zone closed during the pandemic, but the experience gave Lopez the confidence to open her own food business.
“The restaurant industry has always been in my heart,” Lopez said. “Wings, I specialized for years. I just wanted to create a good brand.
Lopez got the name BadaBing Wings from the adults-only club in “The Sopranos” and gave the company the tagline “wings you’ll never be crazy about.” The menu and restaurant have a gangster theme, which Lopez said she decided to lean into after learning her Clark Street building had ties to Al Capone and his gang.
But opening the business meant facing the realities of the pandemic.
After signing the lease in November 2020, Lopez faced multiple hurdles in setting up his space, he said. This included a shortage and price hikes on timber and copper, as well as supply chain issues for kitchen equipment.
Then there’s the shortage of chicken wings, which has caused wing prices to skyrocket during the pandemic. This led Lopez to keep inventory tight, causing a few days when it sold out.
BadaBing Wings had to close for a few days due to a shortage of manpower and wings.
The problem could be solved if Lopez was willing to order different products. But it has stuck to its halal jumbo wings, which are of the highest quality and offer consistency to customers, he said. Lopez absorbs the cost of his wings as much as possible, he said.
“I want people to like the food and I don’t want to hurt them,” Lopez said. “If the texture changes, people will know about it.”
While waiting for the supply chain issue, Lopez took her time perfecting her product and came up with some unique items.
Lopez’s “Capone sauce” is a version of the traditional buffalo sauce that has a sweetness with a tangy heat. The “Bing Secret Sauce” has a thousand island base with hints of honey mustard and a smoky aftertaste.
BadaBing also serves “pizza fritta” dessert, which is pizza dough mixed with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
Lopez said he hopes to meet more local customers on Super Bowl Sunday and bring even more joy to the community.
“I hope it’s busy,” he said. “If people order wings here, they’ll love it.”
BadaBing Wings is open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. from Tuesday to Thursday and from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Friday to Saturday.
Listen to “It’s Alright: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” Here: