‘It’s been a blessing’: Seneca Wallace opens Wingstop in Ames

Wingstop is a new wing place in the Ames area and former Iowa State quarterback Seneca Wallace is the owner of the Ames location. He plans to spread Wingstop to other locations around the Iowa area including Des Moines and possibly Ankeny. 

Brian Mozey

Galia Williams received a phone call from former Iowa State quarterback Seneca Wallace about the idea of owning a few Wingstop restaurants.

Williams, director of Wingstop LLC, loved the idea and said it was a perfect fit for Wallace because the quarterback didn’t just like wings, he loved them. The idea was great, but she had one big question left.

Where would he put these restaurants?

Wallace and Williams knew they wanted to go to Iowa since it’s home for Wallace, so Williams first thought was Des Moines. Wallace had other thoughts.

“He came to me saying ‘I want to do it in Ames,’” said Williams, a Los Angeles native. “I said ‘Ames? I’ve never heard of that.’ I told him I’d need to see the city before I was on board with the idea.”

So, Williams flew to Iowa and traveled from Des Moines with Wallace to check out the Iowa State campus and the Ames community. She still wasn’t sure until she realized how popular Wallace was in the community with Iowa State fans.

People were walking up to Wallace and Williams and saying they loved Wallace and what he did for Iowa State during his career and afterwards, too. After all the exchanges on the street with fans, Williams was driving and saw an Iowa State license plate that said “Seneca” on it and she knew this was the place for Wingstop.

Wallace said this is the place that started his entire career for football, so he knew instantly that he wanted to give back to the community that helped his NFL career start in a positive direction.

“I like it. Actually, I love it,” Wallace said. “Being able to come back where my career started and to be able to provide this, I mean it’s a dream come true for me. It’s still surreal to walk in here and see my jerseys on the wall, see my number engraved on the wall… it’s been a blessing.”

Wingstop is originally from the Texas area and started out in 1994. As a Texas resident, Wallace said he knew he wanted to bring this product north to the Iowa area and tap into the community around this state.

The Ames location is located at 703 S. Duff Ave. Ste 101, next to Texas Roadhouse and is connected to HuHot and Firehouse Subs. The unique part of this particular Wingstop in Ames is the entire theme is focused on Wallace and his career.

There are helmets from his Iowa State days along with framed jerseys from his college and NFL teams like the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. He also has a diagram mapping out “The Run,” which was Wallace’s signature play as a Cyclone.

“It’s all memories,” Wallace said. “This one play stands out for everybody even if you’re not an Iowa State fan.”

Wingstop has 11 kinds of wings, both bone-in and boneless, ranging from basic barbecue and teriyaki flavors all the way up to atomic levels.

They focus on wings, fries and a handful of side dishes, so Wallace said the product is nothing like anything else because the focus is on the wings since it’s the sole product.

“I know about this brand,” Wallace said. “I know wings and football and sports go hand-in-hand. Obviously, the product is the best product out there. There’s no other product better than a Wingstop product.”

The grand opening of the Ames location will be on March 21 at 11 a.m., but this isn’t the end of Wingstop in Iowa. Wallace and Williams are planning to open a handful more around the Des Moines area and farther east and west of the Ames area.

Williams said Wingstop wants four restaurants built in five years, but she thinks Wallace will have much more. She said she estimates about 10 places around the state of Iowa.

They are working on breaking ground on a new Wingstop location in the Des Moines area. The construction will start in April and is projected to be ready for the public by the end of 2018 or early 2019.

“We are excited about the future of Wingstop in the Iowa area because Seneca and I have some great ideas with other locations in mind,” Williams said. “But right now, his focus is on the Ames location because these community members deserve to have the best wings after the support they gave him during his time here.”