Winging it

Boca Loca owner brings ‘boss’ attitude to newest venture in University Market


Jessica Newbacher

After getting their start at Boca Loca along burritos and chips, the wings and sides at Boss ChickNBeer now have their own address in the University Market.

Boss ChickNBeer officially opened at the beginning of October, joining several up-and-coming businesses in Baldwin Wallace’s Front Street development.

The new restaurant, which is located in the University Market building, happens to share something in common with another popular Berea spot just a two-minute walk away: Boss Chick owners Heather Doeberling and Emily Moes just happen to also be co-owners of Boca Loca Burrito Factory.

In fact, Doeberling said that the idea for Boss Chick started at Boca Loca, when an almost-daily customer joked that if Boca Loca sold wings, he’d be a daily customer. This led them to start Wing Wednesdays, which Doeberling said has been a success over the past two years and sold out every week. Pretty soon it became clear that a wing spot might be in the offing.

“After the first Super Bowl when we sold 300 pounds of wings out of a burrito place, I was like, yeah, I think these wings need their own address,” she said.

Since the creation of Boss Chick, Boca Loca has retired its chicken wing offerings and is continuing on as a burrito restaurant, which Doeberling is alright with, she said.

“Really, selling wings out of a burrito place doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, like who does that?” said Doeberling.

Although the new restaurant does not accept Jacket Express like Boca Loca does — Boss Chick can’t since it sells beer — Doeberling and Moes said it is still a part of BW community.

Boss Chick’s location in the university’s Front Street development make it a part of the newly established Berea Business District and the growing BW community. In a way, Moes said she hopes the restaurant helps bridge the two.

“What I really hope is that we have a place that the people of Berea and the students are both welcome at,” said Moes. “Not a student hangout, not a towney hangout, but an intersection for this community.”

Boca Loca started as a food truck in 2013, which Doeberling said was a “great way to start a mini-restaurant.” The agreement with BW to take Jacket Express at Boca Loca was established before the restaurant was open.

While she said Boca Loca the restaurant was like an extension of Boca Loca the food truck, Doeberling said that the creation of Boss Chick was different because there was more unknown in building a completely new restaurant.

Although Doeberling said “there’s a lot of crossover” between the two restaurants, Boss Chick is a diner with more of a “public house” feel. Moes said the restaurant will have a distinct atmosphere.

“This is going to be a loud, yell-across-the-room diner,” said Moes. “This isn’t going tobe a sit-in-the-corner-and-do-your-homework-at-Panera-type of place. It’s just not that.”

Doeberling said that the public reception of Boss Chick has been positive, which may be, in part, because of her and Moes’ dedication to being contributing community members. Doeberling is from Berea and was intentional in choosing downtown for the location of Boca Loca and Boss Chick.

“I chose Berea for Boca Loca because the downtown business district had been very stale and stagnant for a long time and that’s not what it used to be when I was a kid,” said Doeberling. “Revitalizing economics in downtown Berea specifically is my main focus.”

Moes said that their success as female entrepreneurs has also led them to help other local businesswomen. Their start in food trucks, as well as continuing in the male-dominated restaurant industry, has influenced the brand and mission of the companies.

“All of a sudden it’s like ‘you’re a girl doing this, you’re a girl doing that,’ it keeps getting thrown in your face,” said Moes. “You’re like, ‘yeah, I’m a girl doing this, why did that matter?’ And so then it kind of became something that we had to address. And then as we start realizing the power of being women in business, it starts domino-ing into almost like a mission. I don’t know that we started out seeking that, but it’s kind of turned out to be a place where we mentor young women. We help, above and beyond, for women in business.”

Doeberling said that their team of “bosses” is another part of Boss ChickNBeer’s success. Their uniform is a black t-shirt emblazoned with a “BOSS” chain. This ties into Boss Chick’s diner atmosphere, as well as Doeberling and Moes’

“We don’t have cooks, and we don’t have servers. We have bosses. And we just do everything. Our uniform is a boss chain because it’s an empowering thing to be a boss and wear it on your chest,” said Doeberling.

Moes said she hopes Boss ChickNBeer becomes “a strong female-owned business that after a while, it doesn’t become a novelty that we’re a female-owned business. But that other women in business will start being the norm and successful and not pointed out that we’re women, just being pointed out that we’re bosses.”

“A boss chick is fearless,” said Doeberling. “I think that’s what differentiates maybe me or any of my boss chicks from anybody else is that we are knowledgeable, and we’re confident…you gotta really be convinced that you’re meant to be doing what you’re doing.”