by Rick Langenberg:
Woodland Park’s acclaimed home of the Chicken Man and hub for wild wings, burgers, cheese steaks and a new bevy of more healthy entrees is under new ownership.
Wild Wings ’n Things, which once was thrust into the center of the town’s several-year sign war, is now owned and operated by Jeremy Fortin. Fortin, who is from the Castle Rock area, purchased the business from the original owners, Lisa and Steve Branden
Lisa Branden played a key role in turning the franchise’s popular costume character (a marketing fixture for the restaurant chain) into a mini-ambassador for Woodland Park, following some initial opposition by city hall. The Chicken Man became a symbolic hero in the push for a more business-friendly attitude in Woodland Park. Eventually, the Chicken Man won over city officials, who changed their stringent sign rules to permit the personable character to do his thing on Hwy. 24.
Fortin took over the business late last summer after it was shut down for a brief period and reportedly suffered some neglect. And to the dismay of some locals, the Chicken Man disappeared from the highway.
Since then, Fortin, who is well-versed in business management, running a variety of financially-oriented companies and doing consultant work, has successfully gotten the Wild Wings Woodland outlet back on track, along with the waving Chicken Man. “It has gone very well. It’s been a lot of fun,” said Fortin. The new restaurant owner said he was attracted to the area and the prospects of running another business.
Fortin said he and wife Mindy have had previous dealings in Woodland Park and are excited about the changes occurring locally. “We have always loved this area and the people here.”
Since he took over the restaurant, Fortin has made a number of changes, such as promoting a much more expanded menu, highlighted by low-carb wraps, grilled chicken and garden salads, Barnstormer burgers, Philly cheese steaks, and much more. “The menu here has definitely gotten more diverse,” said the new owner. And of course, the restaurant still features their award-winning wings and great chicken sandwiches.
Fortin also plans to keep the legacy of the Chicken Man alive. “We get questions about the Chicken Man all the time,” said the restaurant owner. “Families want to get their picture taken next to him. He is a great asset.” He also says the new Wild Wings has strived to maintain good customer service. “We have a great staff,” commented Fortin.
As for new changes, Woodland’s Wild Wings now features beer and will have additional alcoholic beverages in the near future. Recently, the restaurant was awarded a liquor license by the Woodland Park City Council.
Fortin hopes to use this license to appeal to more sports fans, especially with Denver Bronco football fever raging across the Ute Pass and Colorado. “I am not interested in turning this into a sports bar or anything like that, but beer and wings are a great combination,” quipped Fortin. He believes the restaurant, which does feature a few state-of-the-art televisions, offers a great setting to view sports games. In addition, he cites their carry-out services as a great outlet to obtain an order in time to view the next Peyton Manning touchdown throw.
Fortin expects more enhancements to occur in future months.
The Wild Wings ’n Things restaurant is located at 1079 E. Hwy. 24 (in the Safeway shopping center). For more information about Wild Wings ’n Things, call 686-9464.