About eight months ago, our Johnson City branch of the North Carolina-based chain got into a situation that clearly required a re-think of procedures and goals, and an answer to a big question, “Where do we go from here?” Finding the answer to the “where” involved closing down operations for eight months as a new management team was sought. Leading the new team is Andy Sturgeon who, you may remember was operations manager at the Johnson City Perkins Restaurant. Working closely with the franchise holder, Sturgeon saw to it that our local East Coast Wings & Grill got a complete makeover and a whole new attitude to go with it.
East Coast Wings & Grill can be found next to Catherine’s and across the parking lot from Kohl’s on Browns Mill Road. An indication there is a whole new attitude at work here is that the parking lot and access walkways to East Coast Wings & Grill have been swept clean of trash, especially cigarette butts. Also, the windows are receiving regular cleaning, as has the front door and vestibule, both of which are fingerprint and smudge free. Best of all, the restaurant’s sign on the front of the building has all of its letters illuminated when it gets dark outside.
Sturgeon should be very proud of the remodeling that has been done on the interior. The booths have received a makeover, with new paint and wood accents. Any splits in the upholstery have been replaced. Free-standing tables and chairs have received new varnish where needed, and the walls have gotten a paint job and made to look fresh once more. The bar area has a definite mis-en-place air now; everything does appear to be in its proper place. Attention has been paid to the dining area floor, particularly to the baseboards and corners, and there is a good shine on the high traffic areas in the vestibule and in front of the cashier/takeout station. The now clearly-marked restrooms are neat and tidy.
Hawaiian Chicken Tacos
The Retiree was the member of the dine-around bunch who noticed East Coast Wings & Grill was open for business once again, and invited the rest of us to join her in welcoming them back to Johnson City. Our friend had already secured us a table when we joined her for supper in the late afternoon. We were fortunate to have Peyton as our server, who was very efficient, friendly and also knowledgeable about the menu. Though wings are the restaurant’s forte, (just check out the menu’s full page devoted just to wings’ sauces in various flavors and heat levels) the five of us decided to see what else there was to eat. After availing herself of Peyton’s menu familiarity, the Retiree ordered the Hawaiian chicken tacos ($8.99) for her supper. The ingredients included strips of marinated breast of chicken grilled and then loaded into three flour tortilla shells along with some chopped pineapple, some medium-heat level salsa, freshly shredded lettuce and mozzarella cheese. The tacos arrived tableside in their own taco rack along with her side order, a bowl of baked macaroni & cheese. The Retiree shared from her taco and mac & cheese with the rest of us. I found my bite of taco to be tasty, especially the way the pineapple matched up with the pungency of the chopped onion. The mac & cheese was also good if a bit cloying due to the quantity of melted cheese versus pasta in the dish.
Southwestern Chicken Salad
The Dieter, still counting her calories, opted for Southwestern chicken salad ($11.99) and quite a light supper alternative it was, too. Starting with a spring mixture of leaf greens, the salad had a generous helping of black bean and corn salsa along with freshly-sliced avocado. Topping the bed of salad was more of the marinated and grilled chicken breast, along with four miniature-sized cheese quesadillas. These last were set to one side by our calorie counter so as not to interfere with consumption of the remainder. Salad dressing? A drizzle of the on-the-side honey mustard was applied in a rapid circular manner by our friend. The looked-for result was that of taste without quantity; in this, our friend the Dieter was successful.
Philly Steak Sandwich
My dining partner, deciding to emulate the Dieter’s calorie consciousness, has decided to change her eating habits by eating smarter. To that end, my partner chose a garden salad as the side order with her Philly steak sandwich ($9.99). This last should be one of East Coast Wings & Grill’s signature dishes, being a fresh, toasted hoagie bun loaded with chopped steak grilled with onions, peppers and mushrooms, topped with creamy-textured provolone cheese, then melted under the salamander and served up bubbling. The salad was a smaller version of the spring greens mix topped this time with tomato wedges, rings of red onion, strips of bell pepper and a nice squirt of parmesan peppercorn salad dressing. My dining partner’s Philly steak sandwich did not disappoint; together with the salad my partner said it was a good way to start eating right. I couldn’t disagree with her.
Chicken Margherita Flatbread
The Carnivore apparently was also in a food-contemplative mood. His order of a Margherita-style flatbread had chopped marinated chicken as an extra topping ($10.99), as much a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Taking a naan flatbread, the kitchen lays down a chopped garlic and olive oil base, on top of which is liberally scattered chopped tomatoes and onions. The chopped chicken pieces are also scattered, as is a mixture of shredded mozzarella and asiago cheeses, which then takes a turn in the oven until it is baked to a turn. The flatbread gets a scattering of torn pieces of fresh basil, then sprinkled with a balsamic vinegar glaze and returned to the oven to finish baking. The completed flatbread was served on a rectangular wooden peel to my friend the Carnivore, eliciting from him something I’d never seen before: a broad smile on his face while in the presence of vegetables. My friend had asked Peyton for some red pepper to top his flatbread with, and was presented with a side plate full of red bell pepper strips instead of a shaker full of red pepper flakes. Despite the mix-up in communication, he decided to go ahead and add the bell pepper strips anyway. The Carnivore was so impressed with the changes to the flatbread’s taste and texture he uncharacteristically shared some of his supper with the four of us. The Retiree declared it was the only way to have the chicken Margherita flatbread at East Coast Wings & Grill.
My choice was the California Wrap-Panini ($8.99). I’d had this entrée of theirs before, but with strips of chicken added. However, still being careful of my sodium intake, I decided to try it vegetarian style, with no chicken inside, please. I also substituted a garden style salad as my side order ($0.99 extra) with Italian salad dressing on the side. The wrap was a largish flour tortilla stuffed with chopped tomatoes, Southwestern-style rice, red and green bell pepper cubes, chopped cilantro, and black beans. Shreds of parmesan and provolone cheeses were added before the whole of the wrap was grill-pressed like a Panini, cut in half and then served. Instead of the house’s Ranchamole dipping sauce I asked Peyton for some of their sweet & sour BBQ sauce on the side, which she was happy to comply. Each half of my California Wrap-Panini required two hands to handle properly, and made dipping each half in the barbecue sauce that much easier. Once again, the California Wrap-Panini is a favorite meal of mine at East Coast Wings & Grill.
It is a real pleasure to see that the efforts of Sturgeon and employees like our server Peyton have returned a new look, a new bearing and new concern for customer service to East Coast Wings & Grill. After the restaurant’s opening just three weeks ago, Sturgeon’s undoubted professionalism, together with a friendly, outgoing attitude has been passed on to his employees. Our server, Peyton let us know that she really enjoyed waitressing at East Coast Wings & Grill, meeting new customers and making them feel at home. With an attitude like that, the successful resurrection of East Coast Wings & Grill’s is guaranteed.
East Coast Wings & Grill
198 Marketplace Blvd, Suite B130
Sun-Thu 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Fri-Sat 11a.m. - 11 p.m.
Available on Facebook & social media
Credit cards accepted