WINDHAM — Local chicken wing aficionados now have a new place to flock to in South Windham.
The much-anticipated Binga’s Express at the corner of River Road and Route 202 is open. But finding parking at the busy new restaurant could be tough.
According to Manager Jason Towle, who is from Windham, the new Binga’s location has been bustling since it opened March 23.
“It’s been packed every day from the minute we open to the minute we close,” said Towle.
“We didn’t post anything on social media saying we we’re open. It’s pretty much been all just word of mouth” he said.
Towle says there are about 20 people on staff, and estimated that about half came from Binga’s two other locations in Yarmouth and Portland. Other employees include local high school students.
Amanda Dunigan, from Windham, worked at the Portland location previously and helped train employees in Windham. Since then, she’s been working behind the new bar that Binga’s added to the building.
“It’s been insane,” said Dunigan, whose boyfriend Mike Harris is one of the two Binga’s owners. “There have been a couple points where we had to unplug the phones because it just rings non-stop for takeout. So it’s just been crazy. But people have been really good as far as knowing that we’re opening and being patient about it.”
Towle says that they’ve been doing about 15o-200 take out orders per day, and there could be a 45-50 minute wait from when an order is called in. He said there is usually about a 20-minute wait to grab a seat in the dining room or at the bar.
Les Shane and Emily Cassidy, both of Windham, came in for the first time to pick up their takeout order.
“We were kind of keeping an eye on it, because we kept watching them doing renovations,” Shane said.
Towle said that those renovations explain why the opening happened later than originally planned. Towle said that getting the building ready was a long process because a lot of work needed to be done.
“It was just such a massive overtaking,” Towle explained. “We didn’t just come in here and paint the walls and move stuff around – it was a total gut job. We took it down to the studs.”
The location, formerly Ruggiero’s Pizza, does provide one obvious challenge for the new business: parking.
The small lot is being re-striped “just so people have a better idea of how we want them in here,” Towle said.
He also said that they will have a few parking spots designated for takeout customers.
Harris, who lives in Windham and owns Binga’s with partner Alec Altman, explained that the number of parking spaces isn’t really the problem – they have about 20 parking spots and 24 seats inside – it’s more an issue of balancing the flow of takeout and dining customers. However, he did say that they are exploring the option of purchasing more space for additional parking.
Harris also said that they chose the South Windham location, rather than something in the commercial hub of North Windham, because they like the neighborhood and felt there weren’t similar businesses in the area.
“Windham was a great location for us,” Harris said, also noting that they have plans to expand the Binga’s business even further in the future.
So far, customers seem to like the results of all the effort that has gone into getting Binga’s Express up and running.
“We love the wings in town, and it’s convenient to be out here in the Gorham area having something like this, because there’s not a lot of options,” said Daren Hotham of Gorham. “So, really excited about it. They have a good reputation.”
“It’s nice to see a place actually thrive in this location for once,” said Jay Macfarlane of Westbrook. “And let’s face it, we’re all from Maine, so any time you can put a bar in a location, it doesn’t really hurt you.”
“It’s a prime location, people coming from Portland, people coming from Westbrook,” Macfarlane continued. “It’s a good addition to the area, absolutely.”
Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.
Binga’s kitchen manager Eric “Red” Stanton didn’t have time for an interview with the Lakes Region Weekly because the new restaurant has been so busy.
Binga’s Express in South Windham is now open for business.