Tonight, Josh Bumgarner and Joe Thacker will be slinging smoked wings on Boyd Plaza at First Thursday on Main. When they're done, they'll head to their brand-new brick-and-mortar spot inside Olympia Mill to serve food from 9 p.m. until about 3:30 a.m.
It's all part of their newly intense schedule since signing on to a batch of pop-up events and starting up their mill cafe.
"I'm pretty tired," Bumgarner says. "We're working a lot of 14-hour days now."
Bumgarner first started smoking wings in the kitchen at the hallowed Five Points drinking spot Bar None five or six years ago, he says. (Judging by this Free Times Bite of the Week from 2013, it was at least that long.)
At first, the wings were a way to try to boost Bar None's Tuesday night business — one that Bumgarner says owner Marty Dreesen wasn't particularly excited about. Word of Bumgarner's excellent wings quickly spread, though.
"I tried to keep out of everybody's way, tried to make it happen," he says. "The first year, we were selling maybe 500 wings [a night]. I was coming in two hours earlier to start them. ... It snowballed into this thing where I was working 16-hour shifts."
Now, he says, the bar can do Saturday-like levels of business on alternate Tuesdays, with sometimes more than 2,000 wings leaving the kitchen in a four-hour span.
Thacker came on board, convinced Bumgarner could expand the every-other-week wing business beyond Bar None's kitchen. (That's still where they do much of their work, though.)
"He came in and started doing apprenticing," Bumgarner says of Thacker. "Then it turned into catering. People wanted us to do some parties. Then it was like, let's get a LLC real quick just to make sure we're covered. Then it turned into mobile pop-ups."
Bumgarner chose the name Smokey Loggins after he helped serve food at a friend's wedding, where he had to heat the food over an open fire, and joked to another friend who was helping, "You're my Kenny Loggins, keeping the fire." The soft rock theme has extended to the branding, including the promo image above, a takeoff on the Keep the Fire album cover.
And now, there's a Smokey Loggins cafe. The space inside the student housing development has had several tenants over the years, including a Rise Bakeshop outpost. But Bumgarner and Thacker are taking it late-night.
At the mill, Smokey Loggins is serving an expanded menu of breakfast items and smoked chicken. There's a sweet potato bowl made with smoked chicken gravy, a smoked chicken salad sandwich — even a breakfast burrito featuring Abacus Gold Standards BBQ Sauce. (Bumgarner plays guitar in the local heavy band, which, being made up of restaurant and bar industry insiders, makes and sells its own barbecue sauce.)
"I always wanted to try and do a breakfast and barbecue spot," Bumgarner says. "I like what [Charleston's] Butcher and Bee did where you do 11-3 twice a day. There's not a lot of late night food [in Columbia], period. And we thought breakfast would be fun."
So far, Bumgarner says, he's not sick of wings.
"I still eat one every once in a while," he says.
Smokey Loggins' late-night eatery is at 600 Heyward St., inside Olympia Mill, and serves food Thursday through Saturday from 9 p.m. to 3:30 a.m.