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Side Dishes: Buffalo Wild Wings opens

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Just after noon on Monday, the newly opened Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar on Shelburne Road in Burlington was packed. Co-owner Martti Matheson says he chose to open the franchise of the popular chain because “if you’re going to pick a horse to win at the Kentucky Derby, this is it.” Already part owner of Red Square in Burlington, Matheson partnered with fellow University of Vermont alum and former NHL defenseman Aaron Miller on the sports-themed spot.

Just how important are athletics to the restaurant? Miller’s Olympic jersey and silver medal bedeck the wall. Fifty televisions are distributed throughout the space — even in front of urinals and in the ladies’ room. “That way, you never miss a play,” says Matheson.

What about the eats? Wings are available drenched in 14 different sauces, including trademarked Mango Habanero, Garlic Parmesan and Caribbean Jerk. Although wings form the core of the menu, there’s more to be had. Nachos can be ordered standard, “ultimate” style or covered in hickory-smoked pulled pork. Burgers, wraps, salads and flatbreads round out the menu.

Between the tastes and entertainment, Matheson says, “We’re filling a niche. We’re not really competing apples to apples with any other restaurants in the area.”

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