A new meat-and-two restaurant in Friendly Center is a family affair for the Wyatt family.
Father and son, William and Joseph Wyatt, opened Ben’s Boyz restaurant at 2911 Grandview Ave. in Greensboro on June 1, an extension of the food truck they launched last fall.
William Wyatt is a longtime partner is Sidwhill’s Café in Jamestown. Son Joe manages the family’s Ben Boyz Premium Foods, a burgeoning line of beverages, hot sauce and more.
The Wyatts first decided to start a food truck last year when the pandemic shut down many restaurant dining rooms.
“When we started building the truck, it was the height of COVID,” Joe Wyatt said. “A lot of restaurants were closed. I had the idea of having the truck in one place, instead of moving it around, and we ended up going to the Friendly shopping center in front of the old Wolfgang Puck restaurant.”
The Wyatts made an agreement with the center’s property manager to use the restaurant space for its commissary kitchen and to park the truck out front.
The location proved to be a good stopping point, as the busy center gets lots of traffic, providing lots of visibility. “We didn’t really plan on a restaurant. But we started getting popular really fast,” Joe Wyatt said.
A Starbucks eventually moved into the space that Ben’s Boyz was using, but the center’s property manager then offered the Wyatt’s another space, a former Newk’s Eatery.
The restaurant is named after Joe Wyatt’s grandfather and Will Wyatt’s father, and several family members work there. Joe’s nephew Isaiah Hayes — whose likeness is in the restaurant’s logo with William and Joe Wyatt’s — helps with the cooking. His niece Zoe Hayes works in the dining room. And his sister Latisha Wyatt is responsible for the cakes and other duties. His mother, Dorothy Wyatt, and uncle Douglas Wyatt help out as needed, too. “And my dad makes sure all the operations are tights. He oversees everything.”
Ben’s Boyz offers old-fashioned Southern comfort food. “It’s meat and two vegetables,” Wyatt said. “Our motto is ‘Love. Comfort. Food.’”
The menu is small, and fans of Sidwhill’s will notice some familiar dishes.
For $9.99, customers can pick one meat and two sides. “We have traditional fried fish (whiting). We have fried chicken. We have Joe’s wings — the way I like wings.” The wings, available as a side or entrée, get a spice rub overnight and then are fried with no breading. The restaurant also sells meaty “broasted” (baked then roasted) wings, as well as grilled chicken.
There’s also a burger, and turkey or beef meatloaf, and customers can get salmon as a hot entrée or in a salad.
Sides include mac and cheese, collard greens, okra, slaw, pinto beans and more. Customers can order a vegetable plate of three for $7.99 or four for $9.99.
“And all of our sides are vegetarian-friendly,” Wyatt said.
There also are house-made desserts, such as strawberry cake.
Ben’s Boyz also is in the process of launching a line of products. Right now, they are sold exclusively in the restaurant but eventually may be available elsewhere. These include bottled strawberry lemonade, pineapple lemonade and sweet tea; hot sauce; seasoning blend; and barbecue and other sauces.
Wyatt said Ben’s Boyz hasn’t retired the truck but will limit it to catering special events.
Wyatt said that as a Black-owned business, his family wants to share African American food and culture to a wider audience. And he’s glad his family found a central location at Friendly Center where he hopes a lot of people will find them.
The restaurant perhaps doesn’t have the highest visibility in the center. It’s on Grandview, off Pembroke, next to Juice Shop Smoothies and Hibachi Fusion. But it already seems to have developed a following — at least partly because of the food truck.
“I was coming to the other location (on the other side of Friendly Center). I’ve been more than a dozen times,” said Sally Cobb, who was picking up takeout recently. “I love their vegetables, real soul-food vegetables, like pintos and collard greens. They don’t put pork in them like other places.”
Dexter Morgan also is already a regular customer.
“I usually get the wings — that’s my favorite — but today I’m getting the fried fish and the meatloaf,” he said. “The food is good. The location is good. And the people are pleasant.”
Contact Michael Hastings at 336-727-7394 or firstname.lastname@example.org.