ROCKINGHAM — Rock City Wings is expected to open by the end of July in the old House of Fish restaurant at Broad Street Square, better known to locals as “that place down from the license plate agency.”
Owner Ursula Render, 51, grew up in the Leak Street community of Rockingham and just moved back to the city after spending 22 years in Atlanta. While living in Georgia, she racked up years of experience in the hospitality industry, wedding and event planning and catering. Now she wants to pool her skills to offer her hometown a tasty alternative to the ordinary fare.
Rockingham’s first eatery aimed at pleasing the palates of chicken wing connoisseurs plans to offer a wide variety of flavors to impress even the most discriminating chicken lover.
“There are places like Zaxby’s and they have wings, but they’re just very basic,” said Render. “We’ll have Cajun, jerk, honey barbecue and mild and hot wings along with a lot of different flavors.”
Render’s sign is already in place, and fliers with a basic menu are printed and stacked on the front counter.
“LeaVee Jordan-Patterson of Charlotte is my cousin, and the graphic artist behind the Rock City Wings logo,” Render said.
She added that the menu is likely to change after she consults with a chef from Atlanta. He will give her pointers, she said, and help her finalize what appears on the finished menu.
Asked if she has a favorite flavor or secret recipe, Render laughs with a twinkle in her eyes.
“All I can say is the secret’s in the sauce,” she said.
The three jobs her restaurant is adding to the local economy might not sound like much, but Render has bigger plans for the wings shop than just hiring a few employees. Rock City Wings seeks to forge strong local connections by giving back to the community.
“A portion of our proceeds will go to local organizations, nonprofit organizations and some of the schools,” Render said. “We need the support of people here, because we are going to support the community and give back. I’m going to start a mentoring program for youth, about eighth- and-ninth-grade is where I want to start. It will be for underprivileged kids, and I’d like to get them around horses. Kids love horses. I want to teach them to plant a garden, just how to live.”
Life skills are just the beginning of what Render wants to do for young people in Richmond County schools; she’s also seeking professionals to help tutor struggling students with their most daunting subjects.
“I’d love to get some retired teachers and provide afterschool mentoring,” Render said. “Whatever subject that child has trouble with, they would help them. The main thing is getting their grades and scores up, getting them ready for college. That’s why I need the support of the community, because this is going to be for the community.”
Right now, the only thing between Rock City Wings and takeoff is the state paperwork. Render said she filed her application to incorporate the restaurant as a limited-liability corporation three weeks ago, so she expects that to be wrapped up soon. Once that’s done, she can apply to the county for the required health inspection, and then the restaurant will be “good to go.”
“I’ll have two days of tastings for public officials and leaders, the police department and fire department from 11-7 so people can taste the wings and critique me,” Render said. “After that, we will do a grand opening.”
Rock City Wings will be available for catering, weddings, festivals and other special events. There will also be free delivery within a 10-mile radius.
Reach reporter Melonie Flomer at 910-817-2673.