“Small business is tough,” admitted Collin Sourdiff when talking about his business, Wicked Wings, which recently opened its second location on Pearl Street in Essex Junction. “But,” he said, reassuringly, “a community like this is fantastically helpful, and a positive influence. I’m excited for the future.”
Along with community support, Sourdiff relies on the help of his friends and family. His aunt Kathy, who just closed the Dairy Queen in Burlington after over 60 years in business, brother Kent, wife Erin and friend and business partner Dave Hall all pitch in to run the restaurants in Johnson and Essex Junction. Oh, and his mom does the books.
“It’s definitely a family run business,” added Sourdiff. “If it were not for the help of my friends and family, I would never have come close to this dream. I really owe this opportunity to them and I appreciate it every single day.”
The Shelburne native graduated from Burlington High School in 1997 and attended the University of Vermont for three years. Just shy of completing his degree, Sourdiff left school to help his brother Kullen open a few wing restaurants down in Jacksonville, Fla. in 2000.
“I learned an incredible amount about the restaurant business from that experience,” he said.
Focusing on his most recent opening in Essex Junction, Sourdiff elaborated on his experience as a restaurateur.
Q: What inspired you to become a cook?
A: My father, who passed away a few years ago, was a twice-accredited chef. He taught me everything I know about cooking. My entire life he wowed my pallet with everything from five cheese baked mac and cheese (my favorite), to mascarpone over shrimp cakes. It was the best. He loved to cook; now I love to cook.
Q: When did you open Wicked Wings?
A: We opened our first store in Johnson in September of 2011 and the Essex [restaurant] opened this year on Jan. 22.
Q: Why did you choose to open this type of restaurant?
A: I chose to do a wing joint because my brother Kullen taught me a lot about the chicken wing business, and there seems to be a demand for this business in Vermont.
Q: Why did you choose to open another restaurant in Essex?
A: Because I’m from Chittenden County and this is where I have spent most of my life and career. My wife is from Lamoille County, which is why we started the first store there.
Q: What are your plans for the future of the Essex location?
A: Our Essex location is only half built. We plan on expanding into the back with a full sports bar. This location will hopefully mirror our Johnson location by the end of the year.
Q: What makes Wicked Wings unique?
A: We use fresh meat and produce for every single dish. We have hand-cut fries, hand battered fried foods, homemade sauces, hand “patty’d” burgers; we even have vegan options.
We are not fast food. We are kind of quick with mostly American comfort foods, plus we stay open for all the third-shifters, which separates us from other great lunch businesses in the area as well as the fast food chains.
— Elsie Lynn