Four UL Lafayette alumni are turning their love of chicken wings into a growing business.
Tre'Jan Vinson '17, Jared Johnson '18, Corey McCoy '17, and Avery Bell '17 are the owners of Kitchen on Klinton (KOK) Wings & Things — a restaurant that specializes in fried chicken wings, fully loaded fries, and offers a full-service bar. KOK has become one of the premier places to get quality chicken wings in Acadiana. The four entrepreneurs were recently awarded the 2022 Young Entrepreneurial Business of the Year Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration Louisiana District.
The team made sure to utilize every resource available to them when they started their own business. That included working with the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at UL Lafayette. After years of working with them, the founders were encouraged to apply for some of the awards given out by the U.S. Small Business Administration Louisiana District. They decided to take a chance, submit their application, and were awarded the 2022 Young Entrepreneurial Business of the Year. For McCoy, this award was an excellent opportunity to appreciate the hard work they've put into their business. "It forced us to reflect and appreciate where we are," McCoy said.
KOK is taking the chicken wing industry by storm, and these entrepreneurs don't plan on slowing down anytime soon. It has become one of the premier places to get quality chicken wings in Acadiana. They currently have two restaurant locations in Lafayette and Franklin, and they plan to expand to Baton Rouge and New Iberia soon.
All four KOK founders met as students at UL Lafayette when they joined the same fraternity — Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. The group started hosting parties together and began serving chicken wings to their guests. They started perfecting their recipes and creating sauces, and soon their chicken wings were in hot demand.
"We knew it was time to open a business when we weren't having parties and people still wanted the wings," McCoy said. From there, the business evolved from a food truck to opening its very first storefront in 2018.
Even though KOK is currently focused on Acadiana, the founders have big dreams for the brand's future. "We want to take over Louisiana and eventually grow into a national brand," McCoy said. Each founder specializes in a specific area of the business. So when they put their talents together, the sky is the limit for KOK.
The team has experienced many milestones throughout their journey, including giving speeches to UL Lafayette students and serving their chicken wings in the Cajun Dome. "That was mind-blowing," Bell said.
They also value giving back to the community that has helped them get to where they are today. The KOK team has started hosting charity fundraisers and plans to partner more with the Boys & Girls Club of Acadiana. They prioritize giving back to their alma mater — UL Lafayette. "I think it's important to support the school that supported you," Vinson said.
The four founders of KOK have learned many lessons throughout their journey as business owners, including the importance of making sacrifices and having the patience to achieve their goals. "It's important to slow down sometimes and take your time," Bell said.
The KOK team has overcome so much to get to where they are today, and they encourage all young entrepreneurs never to stop working hard to accomplish their dreams. These four UL Lafayette alumni have proven that anything is possible, and they're ready to keep growing their business one chicken wing at a time.
Photo Caption: Owners of Kitchen on Klinton cut the ceremonial ribbon at the restaurant's grand opening. Submitted Photo