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VOL. 133 | NO. 54 | Thursday, March 15, 2018

Nashville Restaurateur Flies Back To Memphis with Food Truck

By Andy Meek

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Come September, Jesse McDonald will be serving wings out of his new food truck, New Wing Order, with a menu that includes wings, Buffalo chicken tacos and barbecue nachos.

And he’s coming from Nashville to do it.

McDonald, who’s been living in Nashville for several years now, is actually from Memphis. Grew up here, went to Central High School and then headed off to Middle Tennessee State University for college, ultimately staying in the Nashville area.

Eventually, he got a job with FedEx Ground. For the last few years, he’s been managing a popular food truck in Nashville, Music City Brisket.

He’s got a family now, he’s a father, and the prospect of leaving Nashville – which has been growing like gangbusters in recent years – to be closer to his family here in Memphis started to look more attractive. Plus, he’d always wanted to start a food truck of his own.

So he’s now on his way. He just bought a house in Memphis and will close on it in April.

“The Memphis market right now actually kind of reminds me of the Nashville market maybe five years ago,” McDonald said. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity in Memphis.”

And in the restaurant space, specifically.

While living in Nashville, McDonald had a stint managing a fast-casual sushi spot. During that period, he started researching how to get a food truck started.

There are plenty of hot wing restaurants in the city, he thought, but not enough food trucks focused on wings. Another catalyst? Under the New Wing Order moniker, he’s been part of a team that’s won the Southern Hot Wing Festival two out of the last three years.

New Wing Order took home the Grand Championship in 2015, won third place in 2016 and then the Grand Championship again in 2017.

“Jesse really shines in building flavor profiles, working with different ingredients and creating new recipes,” said Cole Forrest, who has a smaller ownership stake in New Wing Order and who’s been helping on the marketing side.

“The concept is unique flavors for hot wings and Southern grub,” Forrest said. “We do it primarily through some hybrid recipes. Things that you usually don’t see with hot wing joints. A Buffalo barbecue hybrid, and things like that. We even have things like a whiskey-infused sauce. It’s kind of a play on new flavors. But we also have some traditional flavors as well, like classic Buffalo that you’d see at pretty much any wing place.”

The menu includes a Memphis Buffalo chicken sandwich, hot wing nachos and a selection of tacos like Buffalo chicken, pork verde and avocado.

The menu also includes a lineup of typical sides like fries and coleslaw, and a lineup of barbecue and Buffalo sauces and seasonings.

The plan is for the truck to be open six days a week, with maybe one day built in for prep. But also to offer catering in the evening, as well as throughout the week.

“We’re excited to bring our flavors to Memphis and for me to get to know the city better now, since I’ve been gone for a while,” McDonald said.

“I’m really excited and looking forward to it.”

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