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Crazy Chicken

Side Dishes: Wing franchise to open in old TGIF

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Martti Matheson may be best known around town for owning Red Square, but the entrepreneur’s newest venture is a far cry from the quirky Burlington bar. Along with old friend Aaron Miller — a former NHL hockey player and UVM alum — Matheson plans to open four Vermont and New Hampshire franchises of the popular Buffalo Wild Wings, which already has about 600 locations nationwide. The first, slated to start serving in April, will take the Shelburne Road spot recently vacated by T.G.I. Friday’s.

“Wings. Beer. Sports. How can you go wrong with that?” Matheson asks. He believes Wild Wings will meet a variety of needs. For one, the spot will be family friendly: “You can bring your grandfather and your 2-year-old, put some tables together and stay as long as you want.” Matheson notes that the franchise agreement also allows the space to be used for local charity events, such as fundraisers for the Special Olympics and gatherings to support UVM teams.

But don’t expect “Vermont-maple-flavored” poultry to appear on the menu — which, Matheson admits, is fairly rigid. Patrons can get their fresh wings dunked in 15 BWW classic sauces, such as Mango Habañero and Caribbean Jerk. Other offerings include Honey BBQ Chicken Flatbread and trios of Cheeseburger Slammers.

Foamy mugs of local beer, however, are part of the deal. While they sip the suds, sports buffs can watch the action on eight “giant” screens, Matheson says. Those less interested in who’s got the ball can request a showing of “SpongeBob” or “The Simpsons.” They’ll have the choice of a handful of video games.

Matheson says the decision to buy into BWW reflects one of his core personality traits: “I like challenges and need to be rechallenged.”

Some people have asked him why the owner of one funky local business didn’t simply open another. But Matheson says: “This is very well organized, very regimented and very corporate in one sense, but it’s a fun and energetic thing. It’s something the area’s gonna wrap its arms around.”

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