Let's be frank. Food tells a story. It speaks of a culture, yet can also describe an individual. From peasant dishes that tell a story about times of hardship, sweat, and struggle, to lavish spreads that explode with flavors born from excess. And, only food can express anger and love all in one bite. With this perspective, to eat without being sensitive to the story is just, well, eating. If so, save your money and jam a stick of butter in your mouth. It will absolutely be filling. Personally, I love learning and peeling the layers of the metaphoric onion. From people to food, and from the simple to the complex, listening to the story is what hits those untouched sweet and tangy spots of your soul.
And for John, the managing partner at the new CJ Wings Cafe in Altadena, the story begins by his bringing the special "Boss Sauce" from the East coast, to the West. His Boss Sauce is called an "After Sauce" because it was created as a savory addition for after the food has been prepared; like a steak sauce or hot sauce. But further peeling of the layers reveals a deeper tale. One of a committed struggle to see a vision come true to a restaurant dream, and to resurrect the unusual storied triangular building from the 50's-60's -- where CJ Wings Café is located. For over a year, with the large plate glass windows covered in secrecy, residents curiously waited and watched while unsubstantiated rumors grew like well-watered weeds. After John laughed at my version of the rumors, he told me the true story. Evidently, they were busy stripping and scraping away the years of successive business demons that have plagued the building since the 70's. This wasn't an easy or cheap process, with new requirements for permits, months of waiting for code reviews, more required contractor changes...frankly, the doors would never have opened if it wasn't driven by a labor of love.
But to the food. John knows that you can never please everyone. His plan was to simply create a place where you could hang out and have heaping piles of comfort food, both familiar and unique.
Small 10 pc. Chicken Wings Hot or Mild (Crispy wings dipped in Boss Sauce on white bread with ranch or blue cheese dressing, celery and carrot sticks)....$7.99
Craz-E Boss Steak dipped with Boss Sauce Hot or Mild (8oz. steak with provolone cheese smothered with grilled onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms on a hoagie roll)....$8.99
Black & Tan Onion Rings...$4.50
Mama's Apple Pie (mounds and mounds of tart, fresh, crisp apples, saucy with cinnamon apple cider and loaded with crunchy granola's crumbs)...$5.95
...to name a few. Plus salads, and chicken tenders, and burgers that are hand packed and smothered in goodness. Delicious basics with that little twist. I'll absolutely be back, but next time I'll take friends. Ahhh. But the storytellers who reside in the walls of this historic building are now finally smiling and cheering for CJ Wings Café. But those onion rings. They sure don't need a story to survive.
This information Courtesy of Jason C. @ Yelp