Yesterday, Rhode Island got what 49 other states have had for sometime – a Buffalo Wild Wings.
And while it was a day to wear the green, there was lots of yellow outside the restaurant and sports bar at the Warwick Mall. Fact is, some people waited overnight to get into the establishment that has a capacity for 280 patrons.
“The first of them were outside the door at 9 p.m. [that’s Sunday night],” said general manager Scott Strumar. Evidently, more than 10 people camped out overnight, with their ranks growing quickly by sunrise.
“By 7, we really had a crowd,” said Strumar.
By 10 a.m. and the official opening, the line stretched down the side of the mall, with an estimated 150 people braving the cold in hopes of being among those to get free Buffalo Wild Wings for a full year.
Strumar said 100 books, with coupons enabling the bearer to eat weekly at the restaurant, would be given away. The gift books are a tradition at the openings of the grill and bar started in 1982 in Kent, Ohio by Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery of Buffalo, N.Y. The corporation, now with more than 900 locations in this country, Canada and Mexico, is based in Minneapolis.
Mayor Scott Avedisian, who was joined by Aram Garabedian, managing partner of the Warwick Mall, and representatives of the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, had the honor of snipping the ribbon for the public opening.
“This is good to have this local touch,” he said afterward, as he looked up to find the jerseys of Warwick high school teams and those of state colleges and universities.
The opening is also a boost for the local economy. The restaurant employs 155. It is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to midnight and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The menu not only offers wings, but a selection of burgers, salads, flatbreads and shrimp.
And there are desserts, too, although, “Some people even have them with [hot] sauce,” said Strumar.
The most costly selection on the menu is a large order of traditional wings at $19.99.
There doesn’t seem to be a corner without a TV screen, just in case you can’t see the 12-by-8-foot screen across the top of the bar. Wild Wings has 30 beers on tap, plus another 32 varieties in bottles and cans.
Strumar, a Cranston resident, worked for 10 years at the Texas Road House in Cranston. He joined Buffalo Wind Wings last September and, after six weeks of training in Horse Heads, N.Y., served as general manager of the Brocton, Mass. outlet and assisted with the opening of the Mansfield location.
As for whether the Warwick Mall location will be the one and only Rhode Island Buffalo Wild Wings, he said more are planned. A North Smithfield location would open by the end of the year.
Last week, Buffalo Wild Wings held events to introduce the eatery to select people in the community. But there was more to it than that. Strumar said the raffles, held during the “by-invitation” events, and donations raised almost $4,000 for the Warwick Boys and Girls Clubs.
“We try to give back as much as we can to the community,” he said.