BARSTOW • Most people who know Bennie Fedrick recognize him as a longtime employee of P.A.C.E. Services, the local janitorial services provider.
Now, Fedrick — along with his wife, Rubi — will take on another role: running a wings specialty shop.
The Fedricks will be opening Wing It, a chicken wings, seafood and southern style "soul food" vendor in the Market Place Mall on East Virginia Way May 1.
Fedrick, who will be the president and owner, said he decided to specialize in wings because he had previous experience working with wings restaurants and because Barstow didn't have one. Rubi, his wife, will run the day-to-day operations as the manager. His two college-aged daughter and son will be helping out when they return home for summer break, he said.
The wing shop will employ eight people, according to Fedrick.
In addition to featuring a myriad of wing flavors, the menu offers southern-inspired side dishes like jambalaya, hush puppies and red beans and rice.
Wing It, which is located next to the Korean food vendor inside the mall, will also cater and offer delivery services, Fedrick said.
Fedrick, who has worked at P.A.C.E. for 16 years and will continue as its business development and retention manager, has opened five previous wings specialty restaurants in areas including Riverside, San Bernardino and Rialto.
"All that time I chose to pursue a different career, but cooking has always been a true passion for me," Fedrick said, noting that Wing It will be his sixth and final venture.
Paul Courtney, president and CEO of P.A.C.E. and Fedrick's supervisor, said he remembered hearing Fedrick talk about wanting to open up a wings place in Barstow for several years.
Fedrick waited until a few weeks ago, when Wing It was almost ready to launch, to tell people about the grand opening, according to Courtney.
Straw Hat Pizza owner Jeff Eason said he wasn't worried that the new business would create direct competition for his restaurant, which also sells wings.
Customers mainly come to Straw Hat for the pizza, beer and family atmosphere, said Eason. He said his only concern was for any business owner taking a risk given the current recession.
Despite the faltering economy, Fedrick remains upbeat about the potential success of his business.
"If you offer a good meal, at the right price...the recession will have little impact on your business," he said.
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Name: Wing It
Address: 510 East Virginia Way (inside the Market Place Mall)
Opening: May 1