BUCKHANNON - Local food lovers braved the bitter cold and shin-deep snow to camp overnight outside of Buffalo Wild Wings for a chance to win a year's supply of free wings Monday.
The line in front of the new Buckhannon restaurant started as early as 1 p.m. Sunday, wing enthusiasts on-site said. Although the official opening time was 11 a.m. Monday, the doors swung open at 10 a.m. and customers were permitted to enter in groups of 10.
Marketing Director Taylor Bigley said the first 100 customers all were lined up outside by about 8 a.m. Monday, with at least half of that number having waited through the night.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
The Buffalo Wild Wings mascot, Buffalo Bill, poses with the first customers in line, some of whom were waiting since 1 p.m. Sunday for the restaurant’s opening on Monday morning.
"They were awesome," Bigley said. "They had fun, played trivia and we gave out some wings at about 5:30 a.m."
The first 100 customers were identified with an empty disposable serving container that they exchanged for a special booklet upon their entry.
"I got here around 1:30 a.m., and I just camped out with these guys," R.J. Sho-Silva of England said of his friends, half of whom were West Virginia Wesleyan College students like himself. "I met a guy from Mississippi and a couple from Buckhannon. It was really fun. I just want my free wings. I'll fly back here every Saturday, and I'll get my wings in so I'll be pretty good."
Other wing lovers also expressed their excitement.
"It was not cold," Tre "Lego" Taliaferro said. "It got cold at like 6 or 7 a.m. Until then, it was like a good 40, mid-30s (degrees)."
"It was fun," Steven Wilson said. "I had a blast and met new people."
When the doors swung open, employees waited to gave each customer a high-five as they were being seated, cheering them on along the way.
"I'm very impressed by the turnout," franchise consultant Randy Howk said. "Great enthusiasm and spirit. This is probably one of the best turn-outs with the most enthusiasm, the most spirit.
"We're glad for the local folks to get in and share our experience," he added. "It's a place to get together, enjoy friends, the community and of course 'wings, beer and sports.'"
Buffalo Wild Wings of Buckhannon has a staff of at least 100, according to Manager Sarah Earrero.
"I'm excited," Earrero said. "I'm just ready to welcome everybody in the community to our team. Have them meet our team. We can meet them."
Members of the BWW staff said they were "pumped," "excited" and "ready to go."
"This is so amazing; I'm so excited," employee Jena Liggett said. "I even love it that it's snowing. It makes it even more amazing."
"I'm so excited for the opening of Buffalo Wild Wings today," employee Lucritia Mathews said. "We have a great time and we're ready to sell some wings."
Harold Farnsworth of Buckhannon - another customer rewarded with free wings for a year - said the food was worth the wait.
"I love their wings," Farnsworth said. "It was pretty chilly (waiting in line), but I survived it."
For some customers, opening day marked their first experience with the restaurant chain.
"I've never tried Buffalo Wild Wings," Brenda Russell, who traveled from Alexander, said.
"I've never been to one. I've tried most restaurants but never this. I like this kind of food, so I'm kind of excited."
Contact Melissa Toothman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.