The Longbranch Restaurant, which first opened in 1967, started serving hot wings long before hot wings were a staple on restaurant and bar menus all over town.

“It means at lot that we have been voted top wings several years in a row,” said owner Doug DeLong. “People really seem to like our wings, which is great because wings are available everywhere. When we first started doing wings they weren’t available on many menus in town and now everyone is pushing their wings.”

At the Longbranch, their signature hot wings are served New York style, with homemade bleu cheese and ranch dressing, celery and carrots. But they offer plenty of other options as well.

“We have wings on the menu every day of the week,” said DeLong. “We have smoked wings, regular fried wings and baked wings and you can get them hot, New York style, teriyaki, naked, or with sweet chili sauce.”

For the past 20 years or so, The Longbranch has also hosted Thursday Night Wing Night, which is wildly popular. “We usually get 200 to 300 people every Thursday night that come out to enjoy our wings,” said DeLong. “When you get 200 plus people every Thursday night, that’s definitely something you want to keep on the menu.”

For $5, guests get all-you-can-eat wings, along with other appetizer favorites like meatballs and French fries. Thursday Wing Night is hosted in the lounge (so no minors allowed) and guest can also participate in Sports Trivia with Tyler.

“We have a lot of regulars that come back week after week that love not just Wing Night but The Longbranch restaurant,” said DeLong. “The restaurant was here before the hotel so the locals know us as being established and a very good restaurant.”

You could say DeLong is a regular at The Longbranch, too, as he’s been working for the restaurant for about as long as it’s been open.

“Back in 1969 I was a bus boy on Sunday mornings,” he said. “I started there and have held every position in the restaurant since. For instance, back in the 80s when we had great local rock and roll bands that would come and perform while I ran the bar and it was a lot of fun.”

These days, most diners won’t see DeLong while they are at The Longbranch enjoying their meal.

“I don’t work out in the restaurant very often now,” he said, noting he’s more behind the scenes doing the books, payroll, ordering food, paying bills.

But that doesn’t keep him from enjoying some of their signature dishes at The Longbranch. “I like our prime rib that we serve on the weekends,” he said. “And of course our customers’ favorite item is our Longbranch barbeque ribs.”

While The Longbranch continues to rely on menu staples that bring locals back time and again, DeLong said they are also committed to refreshing their look and trying new things.

“We just got done remodeling our restrooms and we are going to be remodeling the bar as well in the next few months,” he said. “Plus, we have a new concept we are opening in the remodeled room out front,” he added.

DeLong said just this past weekend they opened up H. Houston Roger’s Steakhouse which will feature high end steak cuts and premium food. “It’s a whole new menu that will appeal to an upscale audience.”

TOP WINGS

WINNER: The Longbranch Restaurant
LOCATION: 90 Twixt Town Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids
CONTACT: (319) 377-6386, www.thelongbranch.com/dining.html
RUNNERS-UP: Red’s Public House, 112 Second St. SE, Cedar Rapids, (319) 363-0257, redscr.com; First Avenue Draught House Pub & Eatery, 3707 First Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids (now closed)
ONLINE: To view the Top Shelf magazine, go to Hooplanow.com/topshelf
PICK IT UP: Top Shelf is available at Hy-Vee, Casey’s and Fareway stores in the Corridor