In one year, Black-owned restaurant ATL Wings has become a staple in Tucson with its crispy and flavorful wings, top-notch customer service and determination to give back to the community.
Co-owners Velveia Evans and Ralph Bankhead brought the Chandler-based franchise to Tucson in February 2019, when they opened up ATL Wings at a vintage service station on the corner of Fourth Avenue and University Boulevard.
“We went to this location, we had lunch and I could feel when I walked in that door that was where we were supposed to be,” Evans said. “We had the landlord come to Phoenix and eat ATL Wings. That sealed the deal and we got the location and we haven't stopped running yet.”
ATL Wings’s menu consists of bone-in and boneless chicken wings with 22 flavors to choose from, including classics like hot or lemon pepper or a special recipe ATL style wing, along with a selection of french fries, salads, deep-fried biscuits and a variety of Kool-Aid on tap, according to ATL Wings’s website.
“We have the best wings. The wings are meaty wings. It's not just the bone. And the key is the wings are crispy. The wings are never frozen. They're hormone-free, they come to us fresh. So never do you have something that's coming out of the freezer, coming to your dinner table, it's made to order fresh,” Evans said. “Even though this is considered fast food, we make everything that's there.”
Along with serving food, Evans and Bankhead are committed to serving the greater Tucson community.
ATL Wings Tucson works closely with the Goodwill of Southern Arizona's METRO Youth Program to help youth in the community ages 16 to 24 get back on their feet and pursue their futures according to Lance Meeks, the Metro Youth Program Manager.
“It's exciting to work with a business such as ATL Wings because they see a lot of young people out on Fourth and out in the city and there are so many different stories that they come across,” Meeks said. “The partnership goals are not just us sending young people to get work experience, but they're sending [us] young people that maybe need help with going back to school or additional support services in the community."
Evans believes that good food and community outreach go hand in hand.
“We want to change lives," Evans said. "And in order to change your life, you have to touch a life. So each young person that comes in this program, we touched their life. Regardless of whether we hire them in the end, they will always leave us better than they were."
Part of the training that Evans and Bankhead provide to youths in the program is how to give excellent customer service to guests at ATL Wings. Customer service and hospitality play a vital role in the ATL experience.
“Every time [customers] come to ATL, we want them to have a five-star experience. And that's how we have grown ATL Wings because we all hit the mark every time,” Bankhead said. “We have a wall of fame with people like Khalil Tate and J.J. Taylor, so it's a community-driven operation.”
Meeks said, “It’s just a good place, you get a good vibe when you would come in to order. The hospitality that the Bankheads have provided is great. You know, they make everybody feel welcome, not just myself because I have a relationship with them now. I mean, customer service is truly on point. ... Whether you want to watch a U of A basketball game or football game, or, you know, listen to some good music, I think they have it all like a one-stop-shop there."
The sense of community was strong throughout ATL Wings and its customer service. Evans stressed the importance of good food and community.
“One thing about ATL Wings beside the wonderful food is the atmosphere. We always have R&B music [playing]," Evans said. "I mean, you can sit and you can jam. You can talk to the people next to you and find out what flavors they have. It's a community place where people come to enjoy themselves and enjoy their friends and family."
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, ATL Wings is not currently offering dine-in services, according to Evans. However, they are offering takeout and delivery options for the Tucson area.
The pandemic hasn’t stopped Evans, Bankhead and ATL Wings from providing the full ATL experience.
“So now we serve you through a window. But one thing we found is that love comes through a window just as easily as it did through a door,” Evans said.
ATL Wings is located at 802 N. 4th Ave. Their current hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Their phone number is (520) 207-1771.
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