WAIPOULI — Johnny’s Wingz ‘N Tingz Sports Bar and Grill, a full-service bar and restaurant with plenty of food, is a new restaurant located in the old Trees Lounge building, was inspired by a man’s love for his wife and his wife’s love for chicken.
After four years of searching, Donna Copeland and her husband John Copeland found a place to begin their new adventure, and created an establishment that has 27 different types of wing flavors, including his spicy dry rub, lemon pepper and mochi.
“I did this for my wife. She loves chicken,” Copeland said. “When we were on the mainland, she was free to roam, and we would go have chicken wherever she wanted to. The quality of the chicken we ate was pretty inconsistent. Good one night and not so good the next.”
The restaurant opened four weeks ago, and is looking to hire more cooks before its grand opening on Friday, April 30, where they will have live music and hula.
“Our problem is finding cooks,” said John Copeland. “Right now it is very difficult to get anybody to work because of these unemployment benefits that they’re getting. And I wholeheartedly understand them saying, ‘look, I’m getting extra a month, more than I would have made if I was working.’ We ran ads for four months. And the cooks that we have right now are very good.”
Copeland said right now they are open from 5 p.m. to midnight. And yet they want to be open from 7 a.m. to midnight as a place with TV screens to watch favorite sports teams and drink a cold beer or other libation with friends.
“Right now we have a short menu,” John Copeland said. “We got our wings, coconut shrimp, burgers, and of course fries. We’ll have a surf-and-turf on Fridays, and prime rib on Saturdays, (and) specialties throughout the week after our grand opening. But we certainly need more to move forward and open up at our lunch and our breakfast so we can stay open and serve everybody all day long.”
John Copeland said there was hardly anyone coming into their chicken joint the first week and a half after they opened because nobody knew they were open.
“We really didn’t advertise,” Copeland said. “We just wanted to open the doors because everything in here is brand new. The whole hotline of our POS systems, it’s all brand new. We needed to break it down and get used to the bug. So we are welcomed and only being very slow. Then we did our first radio ad and all hell broke loose.”
According to Copeland, they do their wings a little differently than anybody else.
“We brine our chicken for 24 hours,” Copeland said, “which I don’t know anybody that brine their chicken wings, but we do that to keep the meat moist.”
When Copeland listens from his kitchen, he said he can hear customers eating their wings.
“I can hear people bite them when I’m back behind cooking,” Copeland said. “That’s how crispy they are. And we’ve gotten a lot of good responses from customers, saying ‘What’s your secret?’ And I just look at him and tell him ‘it’s my secret.’”
Since they are limited on their hours of operation, Copeland said take-outs can be called in from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily. They are closed Wednesdays.
Copeland said every time somebody gets up, everything’s cleaned and sanitized.
“Everyone wears a mask, of course, and they got to keep their distancing,” Copeland said. “It’s very difficult sometimes to keep people in their seats, right? Because it’s a bar, they want to get up and go walk and talk to their friends, and we have to constantly remind them, ‘you sit next to your friends and converse with them rather than going across the room. Because we can’t have that right now.’ So we were COVID-19 conscious.”
Copeland said he wanted to figure out a way to succeed without being very dependent on visitors, so they can survive through any emergency or natural disaster.
“We did this for the locals,” Copeland said. “We wanted to do something that we could survive through because nobody took COVID into the equation on a business, and it’s created a lot of havoc for a lot of people, and a lot of people have lost an awful lot because of it. So we will be having local plates. Our friends that are out there, they’ve been great. They’ve kept us alive right now, which we are a little scared at first.”
Copeland said they’re not making a ton of money, but are surviving.
”We wanted to be able to survive in its worst time,” Copeland said. “Come out and try us.”
Stephanie Shinno, education and business reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or email@example.com.