For owner Brian Seifried, the November opening of Wing Shack number 10 in a strip mall on the northside of 28th Street has been something of a homecoming. Born and raised in Westminster, Seifried spent his teen years in and around Boulder, attending one the city’s longest-serving independent high schools, September School.
“I’ve got early memories of the Boulder Creek Fest, playing in the Boulder Creek and Abo’s Pizza,” he says.
In 2004, Seifried opened the original Wing Shack in a “literal shack” in Garden City, a suburb of Greeley known as a base for liquor stores and saloons back when Greeley was still a dry town.
“It’s still our rockstar,” says Marketing Director Amber Boutwell, adding that the local chain now boasts locations from Boulder to all the way up to Cheyenne.
“People said, ‘You guys are fuckin’ crazy for this,’” says Seifried, reminiscing to his early days on the line, where he perfected his sauce recipes surrounded by greasy smoke and the noise of neighboring dive bars.
The latest iteration is fashioned much like the original. While Seifried says some of the spots are more palatial and have become beer-oriented hangouts, the Boulder location is intentionally bare-bones. The cozy dining room caps at 25 seats and is built for quick turnover.
The menu is equally elegant in its simplicity. There are sides like crinkle-cut and sweet potato fries and desserts like the mini churros, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the namesake item.
“It’s pretty straightforward what we’re doing here,” Seifried says. “It’s not rocket science — good wings for a reasonable price.”
That formula is working. Since 2004, Seifried has opened three locations in Greeley and additional spots in Loveland, Windsor, Fort Collins, Cheyenne, Longmont and Johnstown. In 2018, he debuted Luna’s Tacos and Tequila, a passion project that boasts one of the better agave lists on the Front Range.
“I wanted to challenge myself and get out of the wing mold,” he says. He’s since followed with two locations of Sexy Sammies Chicken Sandwiches and Tenders and The Centennial Public House, all located in Greeley proper.
Seifried says he was initially drawn to wings for their communal nature, adding that he feels they’ve become more of a cultural presence in the past decade.
“It’s one of those foods you gather with,” he says. “I grew up in a family that wasn’t in the industry, but food was the centerpiece of every social gathering.”
At the center of the menu are traditional and boneless wings, with standard options ranging from five to 100 per order. Each can be tossed in a range of house-made sauces including mild, hot, garlic hot, golden hot and bear hot alongside some gussied-up traditional dressings like BBQ and teriyaki.
“The sauce is the soul of Wing Shack,” says Seifried, adding that each of the proprietary flavors is produced at a commissary and distributed to the individual locations, with the recipes remaining firmly under lock and key.
There are also off-menu options, affectionately dubbed “Shack Hacks,” which include the Golden Delicious, a combination of golden hot, honey and barbecue sauces; and the Beariyaki, which combines the house’s hottest option with a touch of sweet teriyaki. No matter what wings guests choose, everything should be drenched in either the ranch or jalapeno garlic ranch, both made in-house.
“Sometimes I think people like me better for my ranch than for my wings,” says Seifried with a grin. A plant-based ranch is currently being exclusively tested at the Boulder location.
“I think Boulder is a place I’m connected to from growing up. It also seems to be a place where small businesses can grow and thrive,” says Seifried, noting the ongoing success of both Abo’s and Snarf’s.
With wings becoming all the more omnipresent, Seifried says he’s relied on attention to detail and taking care of the community as ways he’s managed to cut through the noise.
“I was raised on the idea that giving back is who we are and what we do,” he says. In Boulder, Wing Shack has already partnered with the Emergency Family Assistance Association, and Siefried plans to donate to September School along with other programs promoting youth literacy. “We love giving to schools.”
Seifried says he’s excited about the reception he and his team has received. “It’s a small step for Boulder and a giant leap for wing kind,” he says.