Reunited… and it feels sooooo good
After a multi-month hiatus, the Food with Friends crew has finally teamed up once again to do what we do best – eat and chat. This month’s adventure brings us to Fairley’s Wings and More in Downtown Hattiesburg. We were excited to get the gang back together and enjoy a spread from the local wing joint. Jamie even showed up in his “I Am Fairley’s Wings” T-shirt that he got at the ribbon cutting when the business first opened its doors.
IF THESE WALLS COULD SPEAK
Fairley’s was kind enough to open its doors to us after regular business hours, on Father’s Day, no less. On this sweltering Sunday afternoon, we entered the main dining room and took respite in the breeze of the ceiling fans. There are plenty of low-top tables that offer street views of downtown. We elected to sit at the bar, where we were able to keep up with the Cubs game as well as College World Series action. Behind the front dining area, there is a long hallway that leads to restrooms as well as a private dining room that is perfect for business meetings, a sports team gathering, or a birthday party.
Football jerseys and helmets from all of the Pine Belt-area high schools are displayed. NBA basketballs line the upper portion of the bar. This is definitely a place to get some good grub and catch a ballgame.
Hattiesburgers who have been around for a while know that the building which houses Fairley’s (located at the corner of Main Street and Batson) has been the home to many various businesses through the years. Many will remember a burger joint, a homestyle buffet, a diner, a bodega, and more.
We chatted about the evolution of the building when we first arrived. Owner Nick Fairley chimed in and said he had also been told the building once housed a movie theater. If you leave the main front dining area and walk down the sloped hallway, this does make sense. We decided that we definitely want to investigate this further in the future.
TIME TO BRING THE WINGS AND THINGS
Once the team was assembled and ready, Nick wasted no time bringing out a sampling of his favorite offerings for us to try. Normally during our Food with Friends adventures, we are all about having a little cocktail or beer with our food. This was an interesting outing as no one in our group drank anything but water and Coke. After a busy weekend of FestivalSouth events, Downtown SummerTunes, and the 7th Annual Craft Beer Festival, some of us may have needed to dry out a bit.
Although Fairley’s offers boneless wings, we ate regular wings and they did not disappoint. The first sampling was the Garlic Tuscan, which is a newer flavor. This wing with a dry rub had a very fresh flavor and the perfect amount of garlic.
Our next wing was the Cajun Ranch, which was a saucy wing packed with flavor. I like a saucy wing but I appreciated that it wasn’t necessarily a messy wing. Fairley’s tosses just the right amount of sauce for me.
Next we tried the Garlic Sriracha wings. With a great spicy flavor that wasn’t overwhelming, these were a hit with everyone in our group. We really should have asked for more of these!
Finally, we sampled the Cajun Honey wings. Normally, I do not like honey wings, but I am here to tell you these were my favorite wings of the day. I am thankful that Nick chose to bring these to the table because it is not a flavor I would have ever ordered on my own.
After we finished our delicious chicken wings, Nick brought out a plate called the “All In.” The All In consists of boneless chicken wings (you can choose the flavor) served over hot crinkle cut fries with cheese, bacon, and ranch. Basically, this is an elevated version of loaded fries with the boneless wings. This was a favorite for everyone, and we practically fought over the plate.
Rob Walker, our trusted photographer, was especially excited to see the All In come out to the bar. He told me before we ever got started that it was his favorite thing on the menu. Nick even indulged Rob and made him an All In to take home with him after the shoot.
ABOUT THE OWNER
After we finished our meal, we had a chance to chat with owner Nick Fairley and learn a little bit more about him. Cooking chicken wings started as something fun he would just do with his cousin, affectionately known as “Spanky.” The two would cook wings for Super Bowl parties and then they began entering contests and cookoffs.
Nick said they were suddenly cooking wings for festivals and events almost every weekend. Sadly, Spanky passed away a few years ago and Nick took a break from wings. But eventually, he came back around to his passion and now has been in business at his downtown location for just shy of a year.
In case anyone wonders about Nick’s work ethic, you should know that on top of running his successful business, he also works full time during the week at FedEx. When we asked how he manages to do it, he flashed a big smile and said, “I have GREAT help!”
WHAT TO KNOW
Fairley’s menu is packed with about 20 different wing flavors for regular or boneless wings in various quantities. They also have amazing fries and a great burger menu.
Their private room is available for meetings and parties in house, but they also do outside catering with delivery or pick up options. The bar at Fairley’s offers various draft and bottled beers.
I AM FAIRLEY’S WINGS!
Before we left, Nick was kind enough to gift each of us with one of his new “I am Fairley’s Wings” shirts. He has proudly used this as a hashtag on all of his social media and we will all be proud to represent this great local establishment. Do yourself a favor and check them out!