FOOD FOR THE HEART & SOUL – They’re not just ‘Wing-N-It’

By John Turner

Ahe SoCal desert generally isn’t known as a place to get great soul food, but now, local fried chicken and collard greens lovers can rejoice – Wing-In-It in 29 Palms serves some of the tastiest soul food to be found anywhere. The family run restaurant, located in the former Carousel of Treasures building on 29 Palms Highway. According to owner and chef, Angie Flournoy, their business relies on family in more ways than one.

“I’m not going to make something and sell it to you if I wouldn’t feed it to my own kids,” Flournoy said recently from her restaurant. “You have to like what you do. … I cook by sight, and by love. My own motto is, ‘One Love,’ so I try to use that feeling in my cooking.”

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Flournoy, who is Louisiana-born, also has family experience as part of her culinary expertise. “My mom was a traveling chef, so I learned a lot of what I know from her,” she said. “She used to use us as her tasters: ‘Here, taste this.’ She knew it was good, but she wanted to know what we thought about it.” That skill – thinking about how food tastes, and how it came to taste that way – is part of what made Flournoy want to become a chef herself.

Flournoy said she and her family moved from Shreveport, LA, to California when she was 10, living first in the Bay Area before eventually settling in Compton. There she stayed until adulthood. It was when she had her first child, Darryl, that she decided to relocate. “I didn’t want to raise my son in Compton, so I bought a house in Moreno Valley,” she said. Five years ago, she moved to Yucca Valley, where she resides today.

“I was going to restaurants out here, and I was like – and I’m going to keep it real – I was like, ‘This food is just imitation stuff,’” she said. “I love chicken wings, and I couldn’t get no good wings! I said to myself, I’m going to open my own restaurant. But I had to find the right location.”

In 2021, Flournoy explained, she was at Stater Brothers in Twentynine Palms when she saw that the corner space in that plaza was unoccupied. Flournoy purchased it – and in August 2022, Wing-In-It opened its doors there. The restaurant operated in that location for about a year before it outgrew the space, so Wing-In-It moved to its current location in the Carousel Building. Luckily, Flournoy said, not much remodeling was needed. “(The building) used to be a restaurant. It had the hood vent system and everything. … It was pretty much ready.”

On a recent Friday morning, the restaurant opened at 11 a.m. for lunch. Customers were greeted with smells of fried chicken and fish as they entered the circular dining room. The room’s walls were decorated with Mardi Gras beads, along with artwork donated to the establishment by local artists.

The extensive Wing-In-It menu consists of appetizers like fried okra and hush puppies, po-boys, chicken strips in numerous flavors, fish and seafood plates, scrumptious desserts (the banana pudding is stuff of legend), and more. Many of the menu items are named after Flournoy family members. The “Eddie’s Double Up” combo plate, which has eight pieces of chicken and two sides, was named for Flournoy’s son, Eddie. “He has three sets of twins. He doubled up – more than once,” she said with a cackle! And of course there’s “D’s Snack,” named after her firstborn (3 pieces of fried chicken and one side).

Wing-In-It also serves breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings. On Wednesday and Saturday evenings, live music is provided by local multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Mike Lowe.

For Angie Flournoy, her sense of family extends to the community. The restaurant serves an annual Thanksgiving feast free of charge, for example, to those in need the day before the Thursday holiday. “Then I go home and start cooking for my own family for the next day,” she said.

But nearest and dearest to Flournoy’s heart, she said, are the community’s children. Children deserve to smile,” she said quietly. The third Saturday of every month, Wing-In-It serves free breakfast for disabled kids.

The restaurant also provides needy families with Christmas gifts during the holidays, and it has an Easter egg hunt each spring. Flournoy explained all this from her heart, through tears.

“I don’t do all this to make people want to come to my restaurant,” she said. “I do it because children deserve to have a nice life, and I try to give that to them if I can.”

Flournoy’s daughter-in-law, Ebony, who has worked at Wing-In-It since it opened, echoes that sense of generosity. “Angie is an amazing person,” Ebony said. “She loves seeing people who come in looking all full and content. … She loves the fact that when they walk in here, they feel like they’re home.”

So, plug this address into your GPS and treat yourself to a Louisiana style flavortown stay-cation, and try and get there before the fried chicken sells out. Wing-In-It is located at 71747 29 Palms Highway just east of Joshua Tree.

Follow them on Facebook: Wingnit Wingnit, IG: @WingNit or online at Call (442) 354-8661 to order ahead or for pickup.

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