In 1991, two UF students started selling chicken wings in the kitchen of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity.
Four months later, UF shut them down.
But this year, their chicken wings are coming back to UF.
Wing Zone, the restaurant they founded in 1994, will join Orange and Brew on the Reitz Union’s ground floor, said Eddie Daniels, the executive director of the Reitz Union. It will open in early February with about 150 seats, more than 20 televisions and a full menu.
“I’ll call this their first formal entry on campus,” Daniels said with a laugh.
Matt Friedman and Adam Scott co-founded Wing Zone in Gainesville after their stunt in the fraternity house.
The two fraternity brothers started cooking when they couldn’t find a restaurant to get chicken wings late at night, Friedman said.
With no money and only a simple business plan, they began serving students from the kitchen of their fraternity, he said. They catered to students from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., creating a late-night culture.
“It was like, crazy, how successful it was,” the now-44-year-old said.
They sold wings and chicken tenders in different flavors, offering late-night delivery, Friedman said.
When word reached UF, the two
got in trouble, he said. They got to stay at UF, but their chicken service had to leave.
But it wasn’t the end of their business.
After graduating from UF in 1994, Friedman and Scott opened up the first Wing Zone at 923 W. University Ave., with college students as their first customers, Friedman said.
Over the next five years, they opened six other locations in college towns, he said. But their next location will bring Wing Zone to the Reitz Union.
Orange and Brew, which will serve beer and wine, will have memorabilia from UF’s past, Daniels said. He said UF is excited to see the two restaurants come together, and he hopes students will enjoy it.
Tyler Plummer, 18, said he first heard of Wing Zone when he and his friends were hunting for food deals online.
Since then, they ordered from Wing Zone every Wednesday night for the buy 20 chicken wings, get 10 free deal, the UF finance sophomore said. He said he’s excited for Wing Zone to come to UF.
“It’s good for business to go back to its roots,” he said. “They have the atmosphere, they have entertainment and obviously they’d have the food.”
Friedman said he wants to give students a place to go without having to leave campus.
“The coolest thing about this is, you know, this is where we started,” he said, referring to UF. “It’s just got a very special place in our brand.”
Friedman said opening a Wing Zone at UF meant more to him than Wing Zone’s other locations.
“This is probably the most important restaurant we’ve ever built,” he said. “We’re building something that I think is going to blow students away.”