Sunday, September 19 2021

ED’S Easy Diner.

Miami Burger.

Chick-Fil-A.

Over the past five years, all three restaurants have come and gone at the Oracle’s Upper Mall Restaurant, above the Mall’s Broad Street entrance.

READ MORE: Burger restaurant should become a food court instead

Considering the rate of change at this particular location, one might suggest that the place has become cursed with restaurants unable to cope on this specific site.

But now there is a new restaurant that hopes to turn the fortunes of this place around – Wingstop. Can he break the “curse”?

I visited the restaurant to find out.

The story

Of course, I’m not serious when I suggest the place is cursed – there are legitimate reasons the aforementioned three grocery stores have closed down at this Oracle location.

A search of our archives reveals that Ed’s Easy Diner – a restaurant based on a classic American diner – closed in late 2016 after the chain was bought out by Giraffe Concepts Ltd, much to the disgust of its employees.

The site went unused for a long time before Miami Burger, a fast food restaurant specializing in vegan alternatives, opened its store in January 2019.

Miami Burger only lasted six months, but closed in July 2019 after failing to attract enough customers to stay open according to reports.

Reading column:

And who could forget the controversy surrounding Chick-Fil-A?

The US chain opened its first store in Reading in the Upper Mall’s food court in October 2019.

Reading column:

But the chicken restaurant’s introduction drew huge opposition from LGBT + groups, including Reading Pride, after it was revealed that the chain’s owners had donated money to organizations with a track record of anti-LGBT discrimination.

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Following a heated protest outside the Oracle, mall bosses have revealed that Chick-Fil-A will not be staying in town beyond her six-month lease.

Reading column:

READ MORE: The chick-fil-a controversy explained

Which brings us to the new kid on the block: Wingstop.

Another American chicken chain, Chick-Fil-A replacement hoarding appeared in February 2021 and the branch opened in April 2021.

Reading column:

According to a Wingstop employee who spoke to The Chronicle, the restaurant had “massive queues” when it fully opened (following the easing of coronavirus restrictions) coming down the stairs next to the restaurant and to outside of the Oracle entry.

And the staff member said the restaurant has grown steadily since then, with the store still very busy on weekends and evenings.

READ MORE: Itsu reveals opening date for new restaurant in Reading

The Chronicle understands that Wingstop has a five-year lease at The Oracle, but will it still be around in 2026?

To find out if the chain (which has five other locations in the UK and over 1,000 across the US) is good enough to break the Oracle’s Upper Mall restaurant “curse”, I went to try it out.

Order

A word of warning first: I am not a professional food critic and I do not pretend to be! I’m your standard customer with a soft spot for fast food.

I usually cover court and crime stories for The Reading Chronicle, so it was definitely a change of pace for me.

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And it should be noted that I paid for my meal out of pocket – this was not a Wingstop commissioned review.

Reading column:

Speaking of my meal, I ordered eight wings (you can order ten and 12 if you want) for £ 7.50.

You’re allowed to choose two flavors, so I went with two of the classics – four of my wings were dipped in a spicy Korean coating and the other four in a walnut-smoked barbecue sauce.

There are several other flavors to choose from, but according to the Wingstop website, lemon pepper and original tang are their most popular marinades.

You also get a free dip, so I opted for the ranch.

To complete my wings, I bought a side of regular fries coated in Cajun seasoning for an additional £ 2.80.

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And finally, I also opted for a refillable cup (a common option at many fast food outlets such as Five Guys and Wendy’s) for £ 3.50.

In total my order was £ 13.80 which I felt was quite expensive for fast food.

Reading column:

Other menu options include boneless wings, chicken fillets, chicken burgers, loaded fries, and churros for dessert.

The test of taste

Having received my order via table service from a friendly and helpful employee, I first dug into my spicy Korean wings.

The taste was impeccable – a perfect blend of sweet and tangy flavor.

The chicken almost fell off the bone and was easy to get in.

Then I tried the smoked barbecue wings.

Reading column: Korean wings (top left), barbecue wings (bottom left), Cajun fries (right)Korean wings (top left), barbecue wings (bottom left), Cajun fries (right)

They weren’t as tasty as the spicy Korean option at the top of my plate, but they still had a punch.

The flavors on these wings weren’t as bold and the wings were a bit drier, but the classic barbecue flavor was still there.

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They were certainly helped by the very tasty ranch sauce, which greatly complimented the flavor of the barbecue.

It’s worth saying that both sets of wings were absolutely coated in sauce, so even though the end result was messy and you’ll need a lot of napkins, it’s worth getting all the flavor.

Reading column:

Wings devoured, I tried the fries. Texture-wise, these were good crisps – crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle, and they were that good size between lean and fat.

But it was the Cajun seasoning that raised them.

I couldn’t get enough of the fries – the Cajun seasoning made them really so delicious.

Overall the portion size was good. There was a lot on my plate but not too much, and by the time I finished my meal, I felt full and satisfied.

The drink was standard – there was a good selection of soft drinks ranging from Dr Pepper to Coke to Fanta.

The verdict

I was very happy with my order from Wingstop.

The flavors on the wings were very nice and the fries were delicious.

READ MORE: We spoke to people lining up outside Reading’s new Wendy’s

I would really love to go back and try different flavors, different dips, different menu items and give Wingstop as full a review as possible.

And I would stay there again, despite the high price.

Reading column:

For £ 13.80 I got a large portion, lovely hospitality, good service and most of all tasty food that left me wanting more.

But for £ 13.80 you can probably find a cheaper and equally tasty meal at Five Guys (known to be a bit pricey), Tortilla, Wok To Walk, Wendy’s, ShakeShack, or one of the other fast food outlets recently. open in town.

READ MORE: Man drives 60 miles to new Wendy’s in Reading

And that compromise seems to be the key issue for others who have tried Wingstop.

On Twitter and Facebook, I have received mixed responses from residents of Reading about the chicken joint.

One of them said: “The food was good and tasty but expensive. ”

Another added: “This is great! Moved here from the United States and was a frequent [visitor] the. Habanero Mango [sauce] is the best.”

A third added: “I didn’t like it at all. Some wings were drumsticks, too fat.

And a fourth commented, “The food was good and tasty. A bit pricey but £ 24 for two meals.

READ MORE: Got a preview of the first Wendy’s in the UK and this is what it looks like

Will he break the “curse”?

I hope so. Wingstop is a great alternative to Reading’s fast food scene.

You might be able to find a cheaper fast food meal elsewhere, but you’ll be hard pressed to find such good wings in town.

Reading column:

It might be overpriced, but as a treat it is definitely worth a visit and I would love to see it stay in Reading for the foreseeable future.

Just hope I haven’t ruined it!


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