GREENFIELD — Combine basketball with good food and good beer, and Hancock County folks will show up in droves.
That’s the recent revelation of Brooklyn Fell, owner of Greenfield’s newest eatery, Wings Etc. Grill & Pub.
“It’s been insane … off-the-hook,” Fell said Tuesday. “It’s been far greater than we expected, and we expected a lot. We have broken several records in the history of the company, since 1994.
“This community has just been overwhelmingly supportive. I don’t even know how to describe it. All I’m going to say is I got nine hours of sleep last night for the first time in a month, and I feel like a new woman.”
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Wings Etc. opened three weeks ago, just in time for the start of conference college basketball tournaments, Selection Sunday and all that goes along with March Madness.
With a zigzag wall separating a family section from a bar, a recent Wings Etc. crowd was cheering in jubilant unison during a near upset by Notre Dame of unbeaten Kentucky in the NCAA Men’s Baskeball Tournament. Over 20 televisions dot the Wings Etc. wood paneling.
“There’s not an angle and there’s not a direction that you don’t look that you cannot watch the games,” said Chad Crumpler, a Wings Etc. server. “During the Notre Dame game, we had families screaming as loud as the pub side, so it was really nice.”
“And it’s nice to have the mix. It’s nice to be able to go have dinner with your family, have a nice beer, a nice draft, and watch a basketball game or watch a football game.”
Wings Etc. joins a growing list of Greenfield establishments catering, at least in part, to the sports fan.
The Wooden Bear, Greenfield’s first microbrewery, opened in September, just in time for patrons to view Indianapolis Colts action on the downtown pub’s wall-to-wall high-definition televisions.
The Hawk’s Nest is a new sports bar at Hawk’s Tail Golf Course. In addition to darts, a bowling machine arcade game and industry standard 60-inch flat screens, Hawk’s Nest offers a pair of golf simulators set against 10-foot-by-12-foot video boards, which also can be used as massive television monitors to view sporting events.
“It was very good during the wintertime and, right now, obviously, we’re trying to get them more outdoors (on the golf course) than hovering inside,” said Hawk’s Tail owner Mike Farrer, who debuted the golf simulators and sports bar in October. “But, with the Final Four coming up, we’re going to have a few specials back there and events Saturday. Drink specials, dinner specials. Half-price simulators. The customers have absolutely enjoyed it.”
The ventures join established Greenfield neighborhood gathering places such as Applebee’s, Montana Mike’s and others congregated in large part near State Road 9. They’re all aiming to attract a wide array of customers, sports fans included. Wings Etc. corporate policy dictates that televisions must always be tuned to sports of some sort.
“Sports never go out of style, right?” said Fell, who opened Wings Etc. on March 10 just south of Walmart. “So, that’s kind of a given. I have managers who are major sports fanatics.”
More than the wide selection of television, today’s casual diner demands expanded menu items and craft beers.
The Hawk’s Nest revamped its menu to include homemade pizzas and wings.
“It’s done very well, and kept my staff hopping,” said Farrer, whose sports bar also serves beer and alcohol.
Operating its own in-house brewery, the 6,000-square-foot Wooden Bear has the suds selection covered.
At Wings Etc., 16 beers are available on draft, plus 40-plus more varieties in the bottle.
“Draft beers are quite a bit more popular,” said Crumpler, manning the Wings Etc. floor Tuesday between the lunch and dinner crowds. “In the last 10 years they’ve really taken over. We had that martini lounge phase there for a long time, but you can’t do that with kids.”
Among the more popular methods for partaking in all brands of beer, Crumpler said, is Tanker Tuesday, highlighted by a “tanker” of 100 ounces of beer, to be split and poured between two patrons at their table at their own pace.
Crumpler’s boss is adding her own touch.
“You have to stay with the times,” Fell said. “There’s a lot of new things here that I wanted to implement, and (corporate) allowed me to do so. I’m one of the only women who own a franchise. I think about things a little differently, and I’m incorporating more wine with what we’re going to do here.
“Winey Wednesdays. I’m a big wine drinker, and you normally don’t think of wine in a sports bar, but what you might not think of is 83 percent of the decisions made to go out to eat is made by a woman.”
Fell has plans to add wine to two of the Wings Etc. taps.
“The only thing that’s required is Miller Lite, Coors Light and either Bud or Bud Light, and the rest we can do whatever we want,” the Elkhart native said.
Prior to settling on Greenfield for her first Wings Etc. franchise, Fell brought the territorial rights to the Fishers area and researched 16 different sites in the affluent northern Indianapolis locale.
Deciding that Fishers was already abundant in restaurants, Fell expanded her search to Muncie, Westfield, Greenwood and Lebanon. None of the towns had the quiet charm of Greenfield, she finally determined.
“It’s a small-town vibe,” Fell said. “The downtown square kind of reminds me of home a little bit. It’s kind of like Noblesville. It just has that feel. You’ve got a couple little cafes and antique stores and this and that.”
Fell’s extensive research also revealed that Greenfield was an underserved market. Wings Etc. has more than 30 locations throughout the Midwest, primarily in Indiana and Illinois.
“This market matches our top-producing stores in the system, so that was definitely a contributing factor as to why we chose here,” Fell said.
“We’re sitting next to the No. 1 Walmart in the state, right behind the No. 1 Hardee’s in the state. This town has a lot of people, and the economics and the demographics match up with a town that has more, but they just don’t have anything here.
“A lot of people have the impression of this town that it’s very blue collar, and it is. But actually 53 percent are actually in white-collar jobs here. And they have college degrees. It’s a really good mix. It’s interesting. It’s not what people think this town is.”
She can attest for certain, however, that Greenfield is a basketball-loving sports town that will be in full craze once again this weekend when the nation’s top teams square off down the road in Indianapolis.