A new mural is honoring Buffalo’s original “King of Wings”

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A long-awaited mural is honoring Buffalo’s original “King of Wings”.

The mural, which features Buffalo restauranteur John Young, went up this month at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Carlton Street – the site of Young’s first restaurant in the Queen City.

Young owned several restaurants in the city in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, and his famous “Mumbo wings” were what they were best known for.

Young’s daughter, Lina Brown Young, says the mural is a recreation of the one that decorated the walls of her father’s restaurant on Delavan Avenue.

“It brings back a lot of memories – I remember when it was going up at the location in the 1980s,” Brown Young said. “I remember when the mural was being painted – every day, the gentleman was there, being very detailed, while we were busy serving up food.”

Buffalo Bike Tours organized the mural’s crowdfunding and commission.

Buffalo Bike Tours owner Marc Moscato has been including information about John Young and his contribution to the city’s wing culture on his “Wing Ride” tours. Brown Young has been cooking up her dad’s Mumbo wings for the riders to try.

Speaking about Young’s impact has brought up the issue of public memory, and what is remembered and what’s not, Moscato said.

“To recreate that story behind the mural – it’s a great way to honor a pioneer in our culinary history,” Moscato said. “We probably would not have wings as we have them today without him.”

The grassroots campaign raised $12,000 through pop-up sales of Mumbo wings, grants, and more.

It was painted by members of the WNY Urban Arts Collective – by artists spanning three generations.

Artist John Baker has first-hand memories of John Young’s restaurants.

“You’d be surprised, the people who responded to it who have their own connection to the history,” Baker said. “It’s unbelievable when you have a chance as an artist to contribute to your community and be a part of something like this – it’s priceless.”

Tyshaun Tyson was the youngest artist on the project. He says he learned about Young’s legacy through the process.

“Being from the city, and being a lover of chicken wings, it was cool to put all these factors together,” Tyson added.

Artist James Cooper says he has seen a lot of reactions to the mural on social media, with many people sharing their own memories and photos of Young and his restaurant.

“It gives people a sense of pride, history, and the true story behind the Buffalo chicken wing,” Cooper said.

Buffalo Bike Tours is planning to hold a ceremony at the mural this spring to coincide with the kickoff of the tour season.

You can also pick up Mumbo wings at The Kitchen in the Broadway Market on Wednesdays and Thursdays in November and December.

Kaley Lynch is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of her work here.

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