Pavilion: A food cart launches a store front post

Alejandra Leal, left, and Brittany Muller started their chicken wings business as a food truck, and recently opened their first store front restaurant located on Gold Ave SW and Four Street. (Chancy Bush/Journal)

When Alejandra Leal and Brittany Muller set out to open their own food truck three years ago, the duo had one condition: they wanted to do something different.

In Albuquerque, many food trucks at the time focused on traditional street foods like tacos, tortillas, and burritos, and while those were popular, Lyle said she wanted to make sure her food truck offered something else.

Realizing that their budding food truck was likely to be parked outside breweries, Muller and Lyle turned into a favorite snack of bar-hoppers – wings.

In the three years since its launch, Wing It Up has earned it a huge following, enough to the place Muller and Leal could open their own store front location, years before they thought it would be possible.

Wing It Up, at 317 Gold SW, at the intersection of 4th Street and Gold, opened May 14.

Although Wing It Up had many loyal customers with many travelers from Grants, Los Lunas, and Bernalillo during its first week as a brick-and-mortar restaurant, Muller said that when it first launched as a food truck, customers were exhausted to try the options they weren’t Tacos and burritos.

“No one wanted to try the wings,” Muller said.

To convince customers to give them a shot, Mueller said her cousin donned a chicken mascot suit and started delivering samples wherever the food cart was parked.

It worked.

Soon the food truck demand was satisfied more than they could keep up and it sold out regularly when I opened shop.

Bella Romero and Aristo Balejos enjoy suites at Wing It Up in downtown Albuquerque. (Chancy Bush/Journal)

Leal and Muller credit the food cart’s success with three things – serving a different item, providing great customer service, and most importantly, serving high-quality wings.

Demand was also enough to keep the food truck just a year old when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

“It’s sad to say that COVID has destroyed a lot of businesses,” Lyell said. “For us it was the opposite. We exploded when COVID hit.”

To keep the business open, Lil and Mueller parked their food truck at their South Valley home and began home deliveries to clients throughout Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.

“People were calling us left and right, and we’d be delivering orders all over Albuquerque… wherever (we can) find people who actually want food,” Lill said. “And then we just kept getting phone call after phone call after phone call.”

Despite earning loyal followers of Chicken Wings, Leal and Muller had no formal culinary training.

Wing It Up, at 317 Gold SW, opened in mid-May. (Chancy Bush/Journal)

Muller, who does most of the cooking, said she learned cooking as a teen from her grandmother.

“It basically showed me everything I needed to know about cooking,” Mueller said.

The two decided to open a food truck after Lil’s father died in an accident and left her some money.

“We just went for it,” Lil said. “There was no turning back.”

Wing It Up dishes out its namesake variety in boneless, boneless, rusk and “naked” varieties, chicken tenders, chicken sandwiches, French fries and sides like fried pickles.

Customers can choose from more than 20 different sauces and rubs – including a hot cheese option – to garnish chicken wings and fries.

Wing It Up is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed on Sunday and Monday.

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