When chef Gerard Klass and his wife, Brittney, started hosting pop-ups at Breaking Bread Cafe known as “Soul Bowl,” people traveled from far and wide to try their Chipotle-style concept styled after traditional soul food. From those early pop-ups at Breaking Bread, to a prime location inside Graze Provisions + Libations, Soul Bowl has proven to be a smash hit, so it’s no surprise that Gerard and Brittney have popped back up with their latest brainchild: B.A.D. Wingz.
Still, B.A.D. Wingz is a different undertaking. For one, the pop-ups for B.A.D. Wingz are being hosted by Glam Doll Donuts in northeast Minneapolis. The collaboration came about through mutual friends of Klass and Glam Doll’s owners, Teresa Fox and Arwyn Birch. B.A.D. Wingz was also created in part because the Twin Cities has been yearning for a good wing option aside from D-Spot and Runyon’s. For the Klasses, the blueprint for B.A.D. Wingz comes from a former Twin Cities wings institution: Shorty & Wags.
“Shorty & Wags was near and dear to our hearts growing up,” Klass says. “We wanted to create a wing spot that makes good wings on its own merits, and serve whole wings as opposed to standard drums and flats.” When the Twin Cities lost Shorty & Wags' legendary wings, part of this tradition was lost. With B.A.D. Wingz, Klass says they want to “provide an experience that takes the sports bar element out, and provides a welcoming urban vibe to it.”
Rather than attaching it to Soul Bowl's traditional menu at Graze Provisions + Libations or opening as a separate brick-and-mortar, operating pop-ups lets Klass gauge how to present wings as a unique experience.
“Pop-ups helped us with figuring out what works and what doesn’t work,” Klass says. “It’s been a good way of helping us address things like pricing, and how menu items connect with our customers and community at large,” he says “Plus, with the amount of volatility in the restaurant industry as of late, it gives us a chance to tweak, experiment, and do better at making a premier wing experience a reality.”
Inside Glam Doll’s Northeast location, the B.A.D. Wingz logo and orange and blue colors mash up with the donut shop’s pink and pastels. The line is divided into cash and a card sections to help the order process be as smooth as possible. Once you are in line, the B.A.D. Wingz menu items are passed out or viewable within the Glam Doll space. You have some decisions to make before reaching the counter, because as the wise E-40 once said, “Everybody’s got choices.”
Whether you go with cauliflower wingz for the vegetarian in you, or traditional wingz and boneless wingz to satisfy your poultry cravings, the decisions don’t end there. You have sauces to choose from, too. Your Bold Saucez feature traditional buffalo sauce aptly known as Buffalo Soldier, a jerk known as the Jr. Gong Jerk, and the Mambo sauce – all of which all err on the mild and sweet side. Want to take it up a notch? For the spice fiend in you, they’ve got B.A.D. Saucez, which feature options like Kung-Fu Kung Pao, a Coco Gochujang, and a Nacho sauce. Are you a sucker for a good dry rub? B.A.D. Wingz has a ranch rub and a coffee rub, the latter of which uses Dogwood Coffee’s own Mixtape blend.
For Dipz, take your pick between a plant-based ranch, traditional ranch, bleu cheese, or the house-made ranch jalapeno bleu cheese.
You have numerous options for sides, such as steak or sweet potato fries, jasmine rice, elotes (traditional or Hot Cheeto), chips, and a Belgian waffle, if you are about that chicken-and-waffles life. When it comes to these sides, Klass says: “[They] can work as a good tasting menu if you play it right. For example, elotes can pair well with the Nacho wingz, or you could go with jasmine rice for the Coco Gochujang wingz. For the Belgian waffle, you could top it with the Mpls Mambo wingz, for a good sweet and savory combo.”
If you’re adventurous, try something from the Glam Wingz menu, where you can pair your wingz in whatever style you choose with some Glam Doll Donuts, making the most of the pop-up’s location. On the savory side, you can try the MVP, which has a Glam Doll curry iced donut filled with havarti cheese paired with Steph Curry wings.
The Glam Wingz collaborative dishes between B.A.D. Wingz and Glam Doll Donuts are truly the centerpiece. Take the Rise & Shine, which pairs traditional wings seasoned using Dogwood Coffee’s Mixtape coffee dry rub with Glam Doll’s espresso sugar donut holes. The savory and sweet combination complements the aromatic and smoky coffee dry rub. For sides, B.A.D. Wingz' take on the traditional elote pops with the bright green cilantro garnishes and Tajin seasoning sprinkled atop, which makes for a fantastic and light side dish, especially after taking down numerous wings.
For research purposes, I ordered the Buffalo Soldier Cauliflower wingz, MPLS Mambo Boneless wingz, Nacho Traditional wingz, a Rise & Shine Glam Wingz collaborative dish, and an elote, because elotes are life. The Buffalo Soldier Cauliflower wingz contain a good amount of smokiness and heat, and the cauliflower wingz made by B.A.D. Wingz maintain a good crust for maximum sauce-to-wing ratio. For their part, the MPLS Mambo boneless wingz provide a tangy sweetness, with pineapple showing its presence in both the sauce and the small slices of pineapple garnished atop the boneless wingz. The Nacho Traditional wingz are topped with tomato and cilantro, which, paired with the creaminess of the cheese smothered on the wing, makes for a very flavorful combination.
For a pop-up, B.A.D. Wingz is already proving to be a serious contender to satisfy the wing-nut masses. Chef Klass, Brittney, and the rest of the Soul Bowl staff helped keep the vibe electric with awesome hospitality and a playlist of energetic and lively hip-hop and R&B hits, creating a signature wing experience that the Twin Cities has yearned for.
Feeling a little FOMO? Don’t fret. There’s still two more chances to catch the B.A.D. Wingz pop-up in action on Thursday, March 5 and Thursday, March 12, both at Glam Doll’s Northeast location (519 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis).