It takes a village to raise a child and it take hot wings to raise a college student.
At least that's what one will find when they visit Ching's Hot Wings located at 1264 Getwell Road, one block away from South Campus on the corner of Park.
On any given weekday, the hot wing restaurant is filled to capacity with standing room only. Placing an order for carry-out over the phone leaves the customer waiting for about 45 minutes on "Scandal Thursdays" and a solid hour for a night of March Madness. Yet, the various, mouth-watering flavors keep Ching's customers coming back and waiting for more each week.
"It's a good problem to have," Stacey Jackson, one of the co-owners of the popular hot wing restaurant, said. "We talk about the parking. Even with our employees, they will call me and say, 'I'm here, but I can't find a parking space.' It's exciting to see the growth and see where the next level will take us."
"We were selling from the concession truck for at least a year," Jackson recalls."It's been a great journey just to see how you can start from just a seed and see it flourish and grow."
At first mention, the name may make one think of fried rice and eggrolls. However, the name is dedicated to Jackson's mother who was nicknamed "Ching" in high school for her Asian-like features.
The journey has not always been easy, however. Even though Jackson's brother had applied and obtained a permit for his mobile business, one night the police forced him off the street, forcing the team to find a permanent location for a restaurant.
The first five years were a struggle, Jackson said. Nevertheless, the move was more of a blessing than an obstacle. Located only five minutes from the university, Ching's has become a cynosure for multicultural, small and conventional meetings among coworkers, friends and families.
"Initially, we were not trying to cater to the U of M or any school in particular," Jackson said. "We just found a place that was good for our budget. Places like this are good because you're right in someone's backyard."
The popular wing place aims to provide a family-oriented culture where people will not have to travel far to get great food, quality service, and a clean and safe environment.
College students can find a sense of home at Ching's. Jackson manages the restaurant alongside her brother and sister. The team makes an effort to comfort patrons, offering a place where they can be supported and welcomed.
"It has grown to be a safe haven for college students," Jackson mentioned. "That is why we do not sell liquor. We have had many offers to grow in that area and to make more money, but we have too many kids here. We even advertise for local, independent artists. If the music has parental advisory or if it is distasteful, we do not promote it. We want the parents to know that when their children come here...they are safe, they're at home."
The majority of the staff are students who attend the U of M. From cashiers to deep fryers, the business is cognizant about supporting their student employees academically.
Shelby Humphrey, a senior nursing major at the university, has been working at Ching's for three years. She said management is sensitive to the hectic demands of her major, allowing her to work on the days she does not have class. Upon entering nursing school, she plans to continue working for the wing spot, craving the already established supportive environment while completing her degree.
"It's been a good experience," Humphrey said. "[Management] motivates you. If I have a project, they tell me to go ahead and take off because school comes first. We help each other and tutor one another. We're like a family."
The management staff does not allow their student employees to fall behind in school. Jackson said she regularly has private meetings with her employees, comprised of mostly young women, to discuss their academic progress and how they are managing their personal lives.
"We tell them all the time, 'if you ever need anything...we are here. Come to us first,'" Jackson asserts. "We are really strong supporters of helping people realize their dream."
The Ching's family is a diverse one. It is never uncommon to find white and black patrons of all ages dining together in the wooden booths or white plastic tables in their extended dining area.
"The environment is really sports oriented," Marcus Patterson, coach at Memphis Athletic Ministries, said. "It's multicultural. We can come down and catch up on games, watch Sports Center, and [eat] good food."
Patterson frequents the restaurant about every two weeks with his assistant coach Rendon Bradley. Occasionally, the coaches order wings from Ching's for their boys basketball team.
"The food is good and [Marcus] usually buys," Bradley jokes.
Jackson, a native Memphian, chose to stay in Memphis to raise a family before she considered starting a business here. She said she would not have moved anywhere else and hopes fellow natives can see the beauty that is here.
"Memphis is a great place to raise a family," Jackson asserts. "What we do here, we give back to our neighbors-the various high schools and non-profit organizations. There are families that are within walking distance of Chings, tax payers, who love their community, support their community, and support the small businesses in their community. When I see that, I am very blessed to feel the love from people who love their city."
Jackson said she and other small business owners are constantly brainstorming ways to rebuild and revitalize the communities to which they serve.
"There are alot of small businesses and business owners that really have Memphis on the forefront of their heart," Jackson said. "We take part in various organizations to help families. It is very hard to get that type of support in a larger city."
Ching's is much bigger than hot wings as Jackson reveals. She is unashamed of where she is from and helping people progress above their potential-from the employees to the customers. She holds firm to the subordinate clause of Galatians 6:7 "You will reap what you sow."
"When life happens, somebody has to be there," Jackson said. "It has become something so much bigger than hot wings. I tell people we are Ching's International Church. We do whatever it takes to let people know we are with them, and it's all around chicken."