Students camp out amid blizzard for free wings

The restaurant gave a year’s worth of free wings to the first 100 people in line this morning.

University of Minnesota freshman Chance Ovik, left, Hamline freshman Derek Lutz, center, and St. Thomas freshman Devin Braatz prepare their campsite on Saturday outside Buffalo Wild Wings.  The three stayed until the new restaurant’s grand Monday morning.

Joe Michaud-Scorza

University of Minnesota freshman Chance Ovik, left, Hamline freshman Derek Lutz, center, and St. Thomas freshman Devin Braatz prepare their campsite on Saturday outside Buffalo Wild Wings. The three stayed until the new restaurant’s grand Monday morning.

Jennifer Bissell

Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar opened its campus location Monday, giving away a yearâÄôs worth of free wings to the first 100 customers.
More than 150 people lined up for the Monday morning deal, with some arriving as early as Friday night, right before the storm that brought 17.1 inches of snow.
âÄúThis was an adventure, thatâÄôs for sure,âÄù said Joe Spitzenberger, one of the first customers in line. âÄúI think itâÄôs funny weâÄôre out there in a tent in the worst storm in a decade. Sounds like a good story for the future and my kids.âÄù
Spitzenberger, along with six other University of Minnesota Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity members and friends, were the first in line for the coupon booklets, which have a coupon for six free wings each week of the year.
âÄúI was expecting to be in a tent the entire weekend by myself,âÄù Spitzenberger said. âÄúThen all my brothers decided to jump in and make it way better.âÄù
Buffalo Wild Wings General Manager Eric Stanton said the restaurant had anticipated up to 300 people to wait in line for the free wings as early as Saturday afternoon, but the weather threw the restaurant a âÄúcurveball.âÄù
âÄúThe roads shut down, buses shut down, any of our staff that could make it in, are in,âÄù Stanton said Saturday night during a staff training event. âÄúThey are troopers outside.âÄù
âÄúItâÄôs an awesome thing when we have such diehard Buffalo Wild Wings fans,âÄù he said.
Spitzenberger, a longtime Boy Scout, said he originally planned to go camping up north but knew the traffic would make it impossible, so he decided to camp outside the restaurant.
âÄúI ran over to REI on Friday morning and bought a new tent, a whole bunch of camping gear [and] shovels,âÄù he said. âÄúWe got here before any of the snow came.âÄù
The group built a wall of snow to block the wind and tried to stay warm while they played games, studied, drank and watched Netflix. The tent was roughly 30 degrees inside, the group said.
The restaurant gave the campers access to bathrooms, Internet and at least four free meals. The campers estimated that among the seven of them, they ate more than $500 worth of food and 200 wings. Spitzenberger said he spent roughly $500 at REI for the slog.
Shane Kohlmeier, one of the campers in the group, said he was especially looking forward to the restaurant to be open.
âÄúThereâÄôs just not a place like this in Dinkytown,âÄù Kohlmeier said. âÄúThereâÄôs no sports bar in Dinkytown and if you want to bring 20 people to go watch a game somewhere, I guarantee it will be this place.âÄù
Steve Schumacher, a general manager at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Monticello, Minn., who helped out at the event Monday, said he believed as many people arrived for the deal as there was at the recent Duluth opening, despite the weather. However, most people arrived between 3:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. Monday at the Stadium Village opening, which was much later in the weekend than the Duluth opening.
Giving the first 100 customers free wings is a common opening day event for the restaurant chain.
âÄúItâÄôs good to give back to the people who come here,âÄù Schumacher said. âÄúThey sat out there all night. That says something about our company.âÄù