Eight years ago, officials at American Legion Post 194, Rising Sun considered shutting their doors on Mondays due to lack of business.
Currently, Monday sales are booming and the post is racking up record sales.
All because of chicken wings.
Longtime post member Neil Eller was winging it last week. He explained that rotating staffs of volunteers prepare and serve the weekly wings. About an hour before the 5 p.m. wing sales start
time, Eller was preparing the meat. He said there is nothing about the preparation that can't be shared.
"There's nothing secret about it," said Eller. "We buy naked, fresh, and breaded wings. We get them from North East Grocer and they probably get them from somebody else. We just cook them."
All the wings go in the deep fryer. In order to keep up with demand, they partially cook some in an effort to cut wait time for patrons.
"We have four crews and somebody usually picks up the extra (week)," said Eller. "I've done this. But I'm an emergency fill in person."
A lot of wings move in the three hour weekly sale. August 8, they served up 876 wings, more than a 1000 were served on August 15, and 956 were served August 22. At 50 cents, that's not chicken feed.
"We sold every wing we had last week," said Eller. "It's all we can do to keep up. We don't make a ton of money on it."
But it does bring people to the post. So much so that Monday sales have now surpassed all the other nights of the week including the weekend. Eller said that most people order an average of 10 wings per customer. Large groups come in and order 50-60 wings for the table. The wings are served with celery and dressing. Boardwalk fries are also sold to complement the naked, barbecue, mild, or hot varieties.
"The barbecue and the hot are the most popular. I like the barbecue. A lot of people get the mild and the hot though," he said.
When it comes to the patrons, about three fourths turn out regularly. The rest hear about it word of mouth.
Eller said that many area restaurants are closed and bars have reduced operations on Mondays. That provides a boost to sales.
There was serious consideration at the post closing on that night due to lack of business. Eller said that Butch Webb came up with the idea of serving up wings and having a Monday Night Football and wings event Mondays. That still draws a crowd but Eller said the some turn out to Wing Night for the music.
Karaoke paired with the wings seems to be a big draw.
"We have a superb group of dedicated singers," said Eller. He said that people with powerful voices from the local area as well as Pennsylvania and Delaware sing from 7:30-11:30 following the wing sales.
"Monday night was dead. We contemplated closing. And then we started this to help business on a dead night. It was Monday Night football and wings. Then wings and karaoke. We never envisioned anything like this, never in our wildest dreams. We ran out last week. We've been known to run out. This is the place to be on Monday night. It didn't start out like this. It's tripled since it started," Eller said.
Eller is more than just the chef. He's also a patron.
"I eat them every week. I get seven and my wife gets seven," he said.
Several times a year, on Monday holidays such as Memorial Day and Labor Day, the post honor guard hosts chicken barbecue all day. "Even when we have barbecue chicken all day, they still want wings at night," said Eller.