Memphis native Billy Richmond knows his way around a basketball court, having played two seasons for the Memphis Tigers under John Calipari, after beginning his college career at Vanderbilt under Kevin Stallings, where he was an all-Freshman SEC selection for the Commodores.
Richmond knows the inner workings of a pick-and-roll and scoring a slam dunk on the basketball court. Since his basketball days, however, Richmond has become more known for his ability to pick the right recipe for the best wings around, and scoring a success with his restaurant called “The Wing Guru.”
Soon, Richmond will be bringing his knowledge of tasty wings to DeSoto County when he opens a new Wing Guru restaurant near the Malco Theater off Goodman Road in Southaven.
It is expected The Wing Guru will be part of the Southaven market either late this month or early November, Richmond said.
This will be the third location for The Wing Guru, which is currently situated at 5699 Mt. Moriah Road in Memphis, and at 7199 Stage Road in Bartlett, Tennessee.
For Richmond, known for his hot wings and his basketball background, the decision to move to Southaven actually came about on the radio airwaves of a local sports talk station.
“We did a poll for our next location on a show we sponsor on the station and the consensus was Southaven,” Richmond said. “We had like 3-4 different areas and Southaven kept popping up. Southaven got about 63 percent of the votes.”
The wise business sense of Richmond didn’t just stop there, however, as he then set about determining where in Southaven to locate.
“We got to checking out the area and doing a little research,” Richmond said. “Everything just kind of fell into place. We love the people (of Southaven), we love the area, and a lot of our customer base is already coming from there.”
The Wing Guru restaurant concept has been a part of the Mid-South food scene the past three years. Richmond said moving into the restaurant business was done “by default,” since his father also owned a hot wings restaurant in Memphis.
“I grew up in the restaurant industry, so I was groomed in it,” said Richmond. “I saw some things that were being done well and I saw a lot of things that really weren’t being done well. I kind of put it together and from traveling and playing basketball overseas, I was able to experience different culinary items from across the world. I always had a knack for cooking.”
The name “Wing Guru” also makes a bold statement about what Richmond thinks of his hot wings.
“I consider myself the best, so I call it ‘The Wing Guru,’” Richmond explained.
The awards the restaurant has won in its short existence seem to bear it out. The Wing Guru was named sixth among Top 10 Wing Eateries and was Grand Champion of the Orange Park Statewide Hot Wing Festival. It has also won honors for serving among the Top 20 Gourmet Burgers in the country, and its Honey Suicide Sauce won the award for Most Creative Sauce at the Santa Anita, California, Hot Wing Cook Off.
“The people who love hot hot wings, they really love it,” Richmond said about the Honey Suicide Sauce.
So, if it is hot wings you’re looking for with maybe a little Tiger basketball talk tossed in for good measure, you can look for The Wing Guru taking to the Southaven hardcourt, or rather restaurant scene, coming soon to DeSoto County.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.