Tim Richardson and LaRue Hubbard met about five months ago at Bremerton’s Emmanuel Apostolic Church and became fast friends.
Before long, the pair decided to go into business together, eventually opening Wangz N Thangz at 308A Callow Ave. The wings come in a variety of styles — lemon, four different types of BBQ with varying heat levels, Jamaican Jerk, Buffalo, raspberry chipotle and more — and other items, like burgers and chicken-chili-cheese fries are also available.
All of the sauces are homemade and delicious, the pair claim. The lemon wings for example, feature freshly squeezed juice and pieces of shaved zest that take the humble chicken wings to phenomenal heights of flavor. The Honey BBQ sauce has great balance, but if you are looking for some serious heat, Richardson and Hubbard can certainly help you find it.
Hubbard, originally from Seattle, put up most of the capital for the joint venture and Richardson, who hails from Oakland, Calif., brought some of his cooking expertise and business acumen to the equation.
After moving to Bremerton, Richardson and his wife scouted the area for a good wings place and weren’t having much luck.
Then, serendipity struck.
“I made some wings and took ‘em to the mens’ meeting at the church and they were like, ‘Man, you should sell these,’” Richardson said. “And, (Hubbard) had already said he wanted to open a restaurant, so the rest is sort of history.”
Getting the tiny restaurant up and running, though, was a lot tougher than the pair ever expected. The small space they signed a lease for was advertised as restaurant ready, but was anything but. The entire space had to be gutted. Nearly everything -- from gas lines, hot water, fire suppression, plumbing, some of the walls, you name it -- had to be brought up to code.
“We thought they were picking on us,” Richardson said. “I thought they saw two young brothers come in here. I thought they were thinking we were putting together some sort of snack shack, so they were gonna run us through it. That’s what I thought. Come to find out, nothing was up to code, so I know there wasn’t some conspiracy.”
Through it all, Hubbard and Richardson have stayed optimistic.
“I think they thought maybe that would be a little bit of a discouragement for us, but what it did was, it actually allowed us to build a relationship with them. Because what they wanted, we said okay, let’s get in here and get it done and let’s be reasonable with them.”
Not only that, but Hubbard and Richardson worked their tails off and got things done in record time.
“We did it in an amount of time that they could not have expected it to be done,” Richardson said. “We did not mess around. We called everybody we needed to call in. At that moment, we thought the blessing was the restaurant, but we came to find out the blessing was the lesson that we were being taught.”
One thing that both men knew coming in was that they only wanted to serve food that they would be willing to pay for and enjoy.
“(LaRue) and I, we eat out a lot and we eat in really good places,” Richardson said. “So, the way we’ve promised our food would have to be served is, it would have to be served the way we would eat it.”
They are also genuinely interested in learning customers’ names and building relationships.
“Because once you come through that door, you’re friends of ours,” Richardson said.
For Hubbard, it’s also about making people feel welcome and comfortable.
“We want people to say this is a place where we can go to eat and we’re comfortable, but we also want them to say this is a place to hang out,” Hubbard said.
“We don’t want anybody to think this is a soul food spot or a hip hop spot,” Richardson added. “This is sort of like a hot wings restaurant and a barbershop, except there isn’t anybody cutting hair here.”