By the time Steve Schumacher arrived at the new Buffalo Wild Wings location in Blaine near the National Sports Center at 7 p.m. Sunday, six people were already in line.
As the night wore on and then the morning sun rose, more and more people parked in their cars outside the restaurant to be among the first 100 customers to receive free wings for a year.
Schumacher was not there to receive free wings though. The general manager of the Roseville Buffalo Wild Wings location was there to assist with the grand opening of the new location at 1540 109th Ave. NE in the Victory Village shopping center near Target. The restaurant officially opened 10:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 18. Its regular business hours will be 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to midnight on Sundays.
The 100th person arrived sometime between 8:45 and 9:30 a.m. Monday morning, more than an hour before the restaurant opened, according to Schumacher.
Well after the free wings coupons ran out, however, people continued to line up outside the door to wait for a seat or order to go.
“There’s so much passion for Buffalo Wild Wings,” said Jerry Michels, who has been the general manager at the Columbia Heights and Roseville locations and is now heading up the new Blaine restaurant. “There’s been a lot of interest on bringing one to this neighborhood, so (the turnout) has been what we expected.”
Johnny Leontyev and his group were the first to arrive at 4 p.m. Nov. 17.
“It’s great to get together and we all got free wings in the end,” Leontyev said.
They got stickers proving they were among the first 100 in line and waited most of their nights in their cars, but stepped outside into the cold, windy night once in a while to socialize with the other people and cranked up their car stereo.
“It was like a night club. The only thing missing was a disco ball,” said David Vlasyuk.
Four of them took the Blazin’ Wings challenge. The goal is to eat 12 bone-in wings doused in Buffalo Wild Wing’s hottest sauce in six minutes without the cooling aid of ranch or blue cheese dressing or celery, carrots or water.
Jennifer and Jordan Peterson contemplated coming in the middle of the night, but Jordan knows a lot of regulars at the other Buffalo Wild Wings location in Blaine by Northtown Mall and they had not heard a lot about when the new restaurant was opening so they figured they could wait until just a couple of hours before it opened. They were the 74th and 75th people to get a packet of 52 weekly coupons for free snack size wings.
“I’m happy we didn’t have to camp out,” Jennifer said.
As he ate his wings, Jordan said what keeps drawing him back to Buffalo Wild Wings is “it’s the best place to watch football and the beer prices aren’t too bad.”
Mark Manthey was impressed by the reasonable price of the food and the good happy hour times, and this was the first time he has been to any Buffalo Wild Wings. He had heard about the new store opening and the free wings for the first 100 customers.
He woke up Monday morning and had some free time so he decided to walk from his home near Main Street and Highway 65.
“I figured it was worth a shot,” said the 63rd man to receive a free wings coupon booklet.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org