Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

Sometimes, when choosing a venue from which to take in a sporting event, it is important branch out from your comfort zone and try something that is unfamiliar. And sometimes it is important to do the exact opposite of that and keep your thinking firmly within the box.

With the latter sentiment in mind I decided to watch last month’s Nebraska-Northwestern game from the comfort of a sports bar that I have probably gone to two dozen times.

Buffalo Wild Wings, while a little on the corporate side, is a place where the service and product are dependable, the televisions are abundant, and the crowd is a sure thing.

Sometimes, when choosing a venue from which to take in a sporting event, it is important branch out from your comfort zone and try something that is unfamiliar. And sometimes it is important to do the exact opposite of that and keep your thinking firmly within the box.

I think most people are probably familiar with their sixteen varieties of chicken wings, the spiciest of which at one time came with a free t-shirt, and the many different kinds of beer they have on tap, so that won’t be my focus here.

The focus of this column, the thing that has kept me coming back to BWWs in regular intervals for the whole of my adult life, is the atmosphere of the place.

Watching a football game at Buffalo Wild Wings is one of the precious few things in life that is just as much fun as it looks on television, at least in my experience. While the establishment’s ability to send games into overtime by doing things like controlling the weather or using the sprinkler system to attack the kickers might be a touch exaggerated in the commercials, the energy and enthusiasm is more or less true to form.

My experience there three weeks ago was honestly pretty par for the course when it comes to watching a Husker game in Lincoln, Nebraska. I’m pretty sure I could watch a Nebraska game on a ten-inch hand-held in the middle of a rain storm and not have a problem getting people to watch the game with me.

My best experience at BWWs actually came last January during the NFL Playoffs.

I’m a San Francisco 49ers fan and, as most football fans will remember, the Niners played the Seattle Seahawks for last season’s NFC Championship. Far from being the only person there who even remotely cared about that game—which was my honest expectation—there was a healthy contingency of supporters for both sides who were more than just casual onlookers who decided to root for a team once they got there. Several people were wearing red and gold jerseys while others adorned the acid rain and highlighter that you wear if you support Voldemort…I mean the Seahawks.

Watching a football game at Buffalo Wild Wings is one of the precious few things in life that is just as much fun as it looks on television, at least in my experience.

My verdict is that if you are an NFL fan living in Lincoln—my most sincere condolences to you if you are, I know how lonely that can be—and you’re looking for a place to watch your favorite team, BWWs might be the place for you. It has a broad enough reach that there is usually a good turnout for prime time or playoff games even when the fan base is a little bit more marginalized.

This is to say that while there may not be enough 49ers fans in Lincoln to fill Memorial Stadium, there are certainly enough to fill Buffalo Wild Wings. Which is important, because losing to the Seahawks is something no one should have to do alone.

Need a Place to Watch the Game?

If you’re like me, then there are two things that will continue to be true about you for the rest of the foreseeable future: you love the Huskers, and you don’t have cable television. There are few things more unifying in Lincoln than Husker football. It is a tired cliché, but is perhaps still worth mentioning, that a sold out Memorial Stadium is the third largest city in Nebraska, and that a little more than five percent of the population of this state occupies it's confines on game day. 

Nebraska football really is a spectacle worth taking in, and while the voices of Greg Sharpe and Matt Davison paint an admirable picture via the airwaves of the Pinnacle Sports Network, there are times when a person just needs to see what’s going on. 

There are a number of quality establishments to which fans can go if they want the next best thing to actually being there. My time in Lincoln has given me the opportunity to vouch for fine sports-watching experiences from:

But, today I am going to be focusing on a place called Randy’s Grill and Chill.

Located just behind the Burger King on 48th and Holdrege, Randy’s is comfortably out of the way for anyone looking to avoid the downtown scene. Don’t get me wrong, watching games downtown is great, but Lincoln’s peripheral neighborhoods have merit that is all their own. Not the least of which is the ability to find a good parking spot as well as avoiding, once the game is over, the unenviable experience of sharing five city blocks with 91,000 of your closest friends. 

Randy’s has drink specials every night of the week in addition to Keno, pool, and a poker table. It’s more than just a place to watch a Husker game, and with six televisions in the dining area, there really isn’t bad seat in the house. 

My latest excursion there was last Monday night to take in some baseball and rouse my football appetite with some NFL preseason action. The place had some nice energy without being overly crowded—not to mention $2 Busch Light draws—which makes it great if you’re just looking to get out of the house on a weeknight. But when does it really comes to life? On Saturday afternoons in the fall. 

It’s more than just a place to watch a Husker game, and with six televisions in the dining area, there really isn’t bad seat in the house.

My experience there last season—which was only for an 11 a.m. kickoff against Illinois, so hardly a high-tension game—showed a tremendous amount of promise. The dining area was nearly full of scarlet-clad onlookers who were perfectly comfortable hooting and hollering with the same enthusiasm as if they were watching the game in their own living room. 

The quality of both service and food is about what you’d expect from a place where the staff knows what it’s doing. And, like any self-respecting sports bar, Randy’s serves a pretty decent bacon and eggs cheeseburger which will only set you back $8.50. 

My verdict is that Randy’s passes with flying colors as a place to take in a Husker game, or just go grab a beer during the week. The dining room is spacious, the chairs are a normal height (I have a thing about bar stools, but I digress), and if you’re wearing a Nebraska shirt, you’re family. And if the sport of watching sports ever becomes more complicated than that, well that’s the day I retire.

Photo Credit: Eric Langhorst