Nearly a year ago, Travis and Corri Loan visited their first Island Wing Co. location in Florida.
“As soon as we walked through the doors, we thought to ourselves, ‘We need to bring this to Harrisonburg,’” Corri Loan said.
The Penn Laird couple said the island-themed restaurant they plan to open at the former Quaker Steak and Lube location at 350 University Blvd. will appeal to local residents, families and students.
Items on the menu will include baked chicken wings, ahi poke tuna nachos, blackened mahi-mahi BLT, vegetarian options and gluten-free options, Corri Loan said.
“We’re not going to have any fryers in the restaurant,” Travis Loan said. “Everything is either baked, steamed or grilled, which is going to allow customers who are more health-conscious to come in and dine and feel good about what they’re eating.”
The 8,000-square-foot restaurant is slated to open in late June, the Loans said. It would be the first such restaurant to open in the commonwealth and the 10th location of the chain that was established in 2012 by the founders of the Tropical Smoothie Cafe chain, according to the Loans.
The eatery is expected to create between 60 and 70 jobs, they said.
“It’s bright, it’s vibrant, it’s tropical, it’s fun,” Corri Loan said, while Travis Loan added, “We love the island life.”
The Loans operate the three Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations in the Valley — two in Harrisonburg and one in Staunton.
Travis Loan, born in Harrisonburg and a 1998 graduate of Harrisonburg High School, has lived in the area his entire life. He said he went to Quaker Steak and Lube when it was open between 2012 and 2016.
“We feel like this spot is a perfect spot for the concept we’re bringing, and it has a lot of the bones and structure we need to operate our business,” he said.
Remodeling of the site, both inside and out, is slated to begin this week, Travis Loan said.
The front of the restaurant will have wood accents and a coastal theme, an awning will cover the existing patio and another patio will be added.
“We want to be able to accommodate the customers that are OK with coming inside, but also the ones that would rather sit outside,” Travis Loan said.
The existing building has a drive-thru window, which Island Wing Co. will use so customers can pick up orders more easily, they said. Third-party delivery will also be available.
Of the two bars inside, one will be moved and the other removed. The parking lot will also be resealed, among other changes.
“We’re excited to give it a fresh face-lift and revitalize something that’s sat vacant in the community for so many years,” Corri Loan said.
She said it has been a challenge working on the project for nearly a year as the pandemic has complicated matters.
“But we are optimistic and very hopeful for the restaurant industry in the future,” Corri Loan said.