Meet The King of Wings

At the intersection of Tel Aviv’s hipster, yuppie and financial districts is Wings, a brand new American eatery that is bringing fried chicken wings to Israel.

Meet The King of Wings 758 (photo credit: NEFESH B'NEFESH)
Meet The King of Wings 758
(photo credit: NEFESH B'NEFESH)
In the bright yellow storefront restaurant sits Eytan White, 29, Wings’ owner, answering phone calls, breaking change, and stopping whatever he’s doing to greet other Olim who pop in–sometimes just to say hi.
Though it was White’s dream to own a restaurant since he was a kid, he didn’t believe it was something he’d do until he’d made it in another career. But, while hosting American football screenings at his apartment in Tel Aviv and serving deep fried wings, he began to think differently.
“My friends used to tell me that I should open a restaurant, but I didn’t see myself investing the time and money into it,” White said. “Then enough people said it and I thought, maybe they’re seeing something that I’m not.” After sitting down with restaurant consultants and crunching the numbers, he decided to go for it. That was ten months ago.
White knows that opening up a restaurant is risky, but he’s not one to shy away from challenging pursuits.
Raised in New Rochelle, New York, White had only been studying at Lev HaTorah, a Ramat Beit Shemesh-based yeshiva, for two months when he called his parents and told them he was going to make Aliyah and join the army. First, though, he returned to New York to earn his degree in business administration and management from Touro College. Then, in 2007, true to his word, he joined the Israeli Army and served in a combat infantry unit.
When White officially made Aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh in 2010, he moved to Tel Aviv because that’s where he believed he would be able to find a job in his chosen field: hi-tech.
“I thought that working in the hi-tech sector was what I wanted to do,” said White. “But even when I had the potential of getting stock options, I found myself disillusioned with sitting in front of the computer and typing all day.”
Though professionally White was still considering his options, socially he set out to create the kind of community he wanted soon after relocating to Tel Aviv. Hosting big Shabbat dinners was a passion for White, yet he did not know many people living in Tel Aviv who were interested in taking part. He decided to change this.
At the time, White City was a fledgling organization that ran Shabbat dinners every few months for about 50-60 Olim. With a few other Olim, White jumped in to grow White City, planning monthly meals that eventually grew to 200 people–with 100-person waiting lists.
Having not just created a community for himself–but for hundreds of young Olim in Israel, White has taken a step back in his involvement to devote his energies to Wings.
In less than a year, White was able to nab the exact Herzl-street location he first set his eye on, concoct a series of sauce flavors–that range from the basic Buffalo to the nouveau New Orleans Cajun sauce–with the help of a culinary consultant, hire a staff, and build a following.
White has stayed committed to his value of supporting his native community–selling Olim-owned brands of beer and cider. Before Wings’ opening, White also took on another American Oleh, Robert Ben Or, Wings’ head chef, as his business partner.
While working eighteen-hour work days during the first two weeks in business, White, surprisingly, has lost weight. Though the stress of opening a restaurant is huge, White is overwhelmed by the support he’s received from local community members.
“I’ve been talking about this for months, and people talked about helping me out, and when the restaurant finally opened, they really did,” he said.
Though local Israelis occasionally stop by to give White advice on how he can expand his offering, White wants to focus on making the Wings experience the best it can possibly be–both in its culinary offerings and customer service. Though American friends are urging White to open up shops in the States, White has dreams of expanding Wings to other parts of Israel.
“There’s a lot of opportunity in Israel for anyone who’s willing to take the risks,” said White. “It’s not everyday someone is able to achieve their childhood dream, and I consider myself very lucky.”
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