Winging it

As the student population can attest, the Bay area is certainly not in short supply of hangouts for college-age people in search of a place to party. With the University at the center of its economy, Tampa is very much a college town and a surplus of exciting locales come with the territory. With its very first location in Florida, Wild Wing Cafe is the latest watering hole to enter the fray.

Located at 9210 Anderson Rd. near the AMC Veterans 24 movie theater, Wild Wing creates a fun atmosphere right away. With a wide selection of sandwiches, entrees, salads and a full bar, the cafe takes a refreshingly open-minded approach to typical nightlife fare. While similar venues restrict late-night guests, Wild Wing always accepts patrons of all ages.

“We wanted a very across-the-board crowd,” said Matt Ross, the cafe’s president and general manager. “We cater to a little bit of everything.”

In fact, every night at Wild Wing plays host to a different form of entertainment, with everything from poker nights to karaoke scheduled weekly. Tribute bands also play at Wild Wing, such as the Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band. The cafe also gave away tickets to tonight’s Lynyrd Skynyrd concert at the St. Pete Times Forum to commemorate the occasion. Such giveaways are a frequent occurrence at Wild Wing.

For those simply looking to sample some appetizers other than wings, Wild Wing has over 25 “Wild Things” on the menu, including its own Hot Shots, a spherical pastry made with spicy sausage and cheese. Bucket o’ Beer is another one of Wild Wing’s trademarks, serving six bottles of any domestic or imported beer in a galvanized bucket of ice.

However, despite the cafe’s numerous menu items, its claim to fame is its signature variety of wings. Including flavors such as The Chipolte, Jolt and Braveheart, Wild Wing offers 33 different marinades, all of which are made fresh. According to Wildwingcafe.com, it boasts “the best wings south of Buffalo.” A wing buffet is even offered during lunch hours, in order to give daytime patrons a taste of Wild Wing’s most famous dish.

Since the cafe’s opening last month, the turnout has been “steadily increasing,” according to Ross.

While the Bay area slowly discovers this new locale, Ross already has plans in motion to draw larger crowds in the months ahead. With major events set for the NFL Draft and Cinco de Mayo, Wild Wing hopes to gain notoriety among locals, especially the critical college crowd.

The area may be crowded with countless clubs and bars, but the Wild Wing Cafe will vie for its piece of the pie. Ross hopes that the cafe’s unique ambience will entice people to visit his establishment.

“We want a laid-back atmosphere,” he said. “(Guests) don’t have to worry about the rough crowd.”

More akin to a never-ending party than a restaurant, Wild Wing has nightly drink specials and provides student discounts every Tuesday, offering 20 percent off with a valid college ID. For more information, visit wildwingcafe.com.

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