Binga’s is coming to Junction City.
Bud Wheeler hopes to open a branch of a Maine-based wing restaurant in the very near future at the corner of 18th and Jackson Streets.
“I have a friend who has three restaurants in Maine,” Wheeler said. “I asked him to come out here and see if we couldn’t do something with that building.”
His friend came for a visit last February and said he believed the empty building could be used as a restaurant. However, everything was put on hold by COVID-19.
But the worse the pandemic — and concerns surrounding it — grew, the more Wheeler realized the building was designed for a situation such as COVID-19. The building is “absolutely ideal for our current food delivery system,” he said.
It would be easy to have people pull up to the former gas station and pick up their orders from their cars, he said.
“We have eight slots (where) you can drive in and pick up your food instead of waiting in line at McDonald’s,” Wheeler said. “You just call ahead, you place your order, you drive in, you drive out. We can handle eight cars at a time.”
In addition to pickup, the restaurant will have indoor and outdoor dining and catering.
Wheeler said he believes, “if any of the city licensure people cooperate,” that the restaurant should be open some time soon.
He said he and his staff had struggled with getting its licensure all together.
Wheeler said he had struggled to get the health inspector — who is based out of Manhattan — to sign off on the restaurant. The inspector had conducted a walkthrough of the restaurant, but had been unable to produce the necessary paperwork for the business. Wheeler also said he submitted a business application in March and had not yet heard back from the City of Junction City about it.
He hopes to be able to open the restaurant’s doors sooner than later, but because of these bumps in the road, he has not yet been able to nail down a solid opening date.
Wheeler said he believed things would work out in the end.
“It will be clean — it will always be clean,” he said. “It will be as nice a place as you can find in Junction City or Manhattan.”
Despite all this, Wheeler said he and his staff are intent upon integrating themselves into the community. He said when the restaurant accidentally received an order of 500 pounds of chicken wings and chicken tenders in late March, he and his staff decided to donate the chicken to the Geary County Food Pantry rather than attempt to hold onto it until Binga’s opening day.
Wheeler said the local restaurant will start with a smaller menu and hopefully expand with time. He will bring a cook who has been working with Binga’s for about 15 years with him from Maine.
Because of the experience of the staff, Wheeler said he expects no major problems when the local restaurant opens its doors.
“It’s just a matter of doing something that they’re used to doing every day,” he said. “To give you an idea of the way the business goes in Maine, on Super Bowl Sunday in his three restaurants, which are mostly takeout, they sold five tons of wings.”
A menu for the Junction City location can be found at www.bingasjct.com online.