Any Georgetowner on the hunt for a quick snack knows the phrase “Wingo’s Wednesday.” Armed with a secret word revealed on the bustling takeout joint’s Twitter page every Wednesday morning, loyal fans could get a half-off discount on wings that you could order with dozens of sauces–from honey mustard (mild) to “Nuclear,” “Bite Me,” or “Suicidal” (self-explanatory). But on Tuesday a kitchen fire shut down the neighborhood staple and sent two firefighters to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. According to DC Fire and EMS, the fire spread to the second story and also damaged a florist shop, English Rose Garden, next door.
Wingo’s is now boarded up. Owner Mike Arthur says he hopes to reopen before the beginning of the fall school year and expects to open a second location at 2218 Wisconsin Ave., NW in Glover Park on Aug. 1.
A former employee, Alex Sceery, is now leading a GoFundMe fundraising effort to help the 24 employees affected by the fire. With a goal of $25,000, the funds would provide each employee $1,000 until a new location opens.
Until then, Wingo’s customers have only their memories to snack on.
“I can remember my dad taking me there on the first day of every school year to get fries and ice cream,” says Elice Ellis. Ellis lives in Los Angeles now, but she attended Hyde Elementary School, a minute’s walk from the carryout. Even after elementary school, Ellis says the wing stop was a crossroads for people of different backgrounds.
Georgetown resident Margarita Arroyave-Wessel had a similar experience to Ellis: “Anyone that has kids that went to school there remembers Wingo’s,” she says.
— Ellice Ellis (@thellicellis) June 26, 2018
WINGO’S DC devastated after fire pic.twitter.com/4CqFRIgbRH
— MargieArroyaveWessel (@margieindc) June 26, 2018
For many Georgetown University students and alumni, Wingo’s is a key part of studying on the Hilltop. Some student clubs host programming on Wednesdays because of the wings.
“We would order half price wings all the time freshman year,” says Georgetown senior Harry Clow. “In every GroupMe I’m in, there’s always a message on Wednesday asking for someone to get wings.”
Wingo’s even managed to bridge the Georgetown-George Washington divide. Kiana Barcelona, a recent GWU graduate, says she can’t count the number of times she ordered the eight-wing special with fries and a root beer with mambo sauce on the side: “I remember celebrating Christmas with friends with a bottle of champagne, Wingo’s, and Elf on in the background—as sleep-deprived and hungry college students do.”
For Larry Huang, also a senior at Georgetown, Wingo’s is the essence of the Georgetown experience. “The memories and the people I’ve been with at Wingo’s have defined my time here,” he says.
Georgetown alum Arnosh Keswani echoes the feeling. “Wingo’s wasn’t fancy or bougie (as the kids say), but no matter who you were, half-off wings with your friends or classmates always hit the spot.”
For the time being, wing lovers will have to make do with Paisano’s and Ledo’s up the street.
This story has been updated with additional information.