Jameel Laboo, co-owner of Wing Champs, has big goals for his business. And with family by his side and lots of hard work, he gets one step closer every day.
Based at Garden State Kitchen, Wing Champs offers fresh fried chicken wings, sauced and served with a side of onion rings or hand cut fries. Their menu includes new versions of classic flavors like teriyaki, Buffalo or Old Bay, along with other family specialties. Nana’s Ice Tea is Jameel’s grandma’s own secret recipe.
Wing Champs is always busy. “In five years, we want this to be big business,” says Jameel, an avid reader on the topic of financial literacy. He envisions a chain of restaurants like TGI Friday’s or Buffalo Wild Wings where families can relax, watch sports, and enjoy delicious food. “Right now, we’re building our clientele and momentum.”
“We’re not rushing,” Jameel says, even though Wing Champs just added lunch service and the phone constantly rings. “We want to make sure that we’re not overwhelmed by our business before we move to the next step because we don’t want to be wondering how we are going to survive.”
A Food Truck, a Book and Making Connections
Jameel launched Wing Champs in 2017 as a food truck in downtown Newark. He built a following in his hometown but eventually sold the truck thinking of a bigger stage. Then, he took a year to work through next steps – and write book.
“Signs: We All Could Be Better Parents”, a non-fictional novel where Jameel shares his daughter’s experiences with anxiety and depression, has led to motivational speaking engagements and media appearances. Though different from his food business, his audiences overlap. “We make sure that everything that we do, somehow it helps the other business grow.”
Across Generations and for Future Generations
As the strategist behind Wing Champs, Jameel handles marketing and logistics. His wife and younger brother, who is studying to become a certified chef, cook the delicious meals. Upstairs in the kitchen’s co-working space, his mom manages the phones, online orders, and customer service with a little help from his 13 year-old daughter. “I’m teaching her the basics because she’s too young to actually be in the kitchen,” he explains.
Giving Back to Customers Every Friday
Every Friday, Jameel thanks Wing Champs customers with a 50-cent wing promotion, a discount that gives people more bang for their buck on payday.
“Money is not everything,” Jameel says. “You want people to know that you care about them. We can’t do it every day, because we have to survive, but on Friday, come through 4-6pm, and we’ll give you a deal.”