By Mike Pound
JOPLIN, Mo. —
It wasn't long after Floyd and Jacqueline Hackett opened Hackett Hot Wings in 2003 that friends and customers started urging the couple to expand their operation.
"Open another restaurant" they would say. Often the location that was suggested just happened to be in the towns those friends were from.
While the Hacketts appreciated the fact that people thought enough of the restaurant to urge them to open another, they resisted the idea. They knew that opening another restaurant was more complicated than just putting their name on the front of the building.
"You can't be two places at once, and we want to make sure that we keep the same level of quality that we have now. When a customer walks in we want to get it right the first time because sometimes you only get one chance," Jacqueline Hackett said.
But the Hacketts still wanted to bring their products to more people. They decided to market their famous chicken wing rubs and sauces. More than a year ago the couple started working with a company in Kansas City to bottle their sauces, and with another company in Memphis, Tenn., to bottle their rubs and sauces.
It was a tedious process because the Hacketts wanted to make sure the rubs and sauces produced on a large scale stayed true to the original recipes.
"It took six or seven tries to get the Hot & Honey (sauce) right," Jacqueline Hackett said. "That was my baby. He (Floyd) perfected it, but it was my idea."
Floyd Hackett began fixing hot wings while he was living in Memphis. Hackett lived in Joplin for a time when he was much younger and settled in Memphis after spending 11 years in the military. While in Memphis, Hackett spent time visiting the hundreds of wing joints in the city. After a time, he began fixing his own wings for friends and co-workers who urged him to open his own place.
Hackett, knowing that Memphis was awash in wings, opted instead to open a restaurant in his old hometown. On June 28, 2003, the Hacketts were married in Memphis. On July 1, they moved to Joplin, and on Sept. 16 opened their restaurant in a small building on Langston Hughes Boulevard. In 2008, the couple moved their restaurant to its current location at 520 S. Main St.
Since they opened their restaurant, the Hacketts have used the term "Memphis-style" to describe their wings, but now it's probably more accurate to use the term "Midwest style," Floyd Hackett said.
"In Memphis everyone uses the same sauces and rubs," Floyd Hackett said. "They have lemon pepper and season rubs and barbecue, hot, and suicide sauces," he said.
It wasn't until Floyd Hackett got to Joplin that he developed his Cajun, Caribbean Jerk and Greek rubs, and Honey, Hot & Honey, Beer, Mild and Smoking Hot sauces.
The Hacketts began selling their new bottle sauces and rubs earlier this month at the restaurant and the restaurant's online store at www.hacketthotwings.com.
For the Hacketts, marketing their sauces and rubs is the next natural step in the expansion of their business and of the Hackett Hot Wing brand.
"We want to focus on getting our wings and rubs out there. This way we have more control over the quality. We know our sauces and rubs are going to be good," Jacqueline Hackett said.