Buffalo Wings & Rings targets Marietta

MARIETTA – A Cincinnati-based restaurant chain is expected to open in Marietta within the next year as the result of the increased oil and gas activity in the region.

Established in 1984, Buffalo Wings & Rings, a small franchise billing itself as being more family friendly than the average sports bar, has been working with investors in the Marietta area in the hopes of opening along Ohio 7 near Interstate 77.

“What got our attention is all the new hotels,” said Philip Schram, vice president of development for the company. “We came, visited, spent more time and got educated, and once we saw the value of the city and saw how much it is growing and booming in oil, we knew Marietta was a good place to be.”

The company is looking for a local operator who knows the business and would be willing to start the place, but Schram said final plans should fall into place soon for the restaurant to open in about a year.

“I have only been to Marietta a few times, but it really is a great city, and we’re excited to get started,” he said.

Buffalo Wings & Rings is similar to other sports bars or wing restaurants in that it offers classic comfort foods, sports and beer, but Schram said this chain can cater to a different audience, too.

“We’ve found that in families, the wife is making more of the decisions, so our menu is more focused on family,” he said. “Our menu has a lot of big, tasty salads, and if the husband wants to enjoy wings, the whole family can come and find something everyone likes.”

About 10 wing flavors are offered and include BBQ and lemon pepper. Health-conscious dishes also are on the menu, like fresh cobb salads, hummus and black bean egg rolls.

Nothing on the menu are above single digit prices.

The company also prides itself on using on using fresh food, never frozen.

“All our food is made to order for the guest, and we do not use microwaves to prepare the food,” he said. The quality of the ingredients we buy is higher than that of the competition, and that tends to keep the crowds coming back.”

The rapidly growing oil and gas industry has led to the construction of new hotels in the area, but hotel officials say the restaurants are the missing link.

“Most of the (oil and gas) sites are between here, Parkersburg and Zanesville in a triangle, so these guys are working in the middle of these three cities and they can choose where they want to stay,” said Dan Van Dyke, general manager of the Comfort Suites on Cherry Tree Lane. “It comes down to what is closest, but if there’s only a short distance between them all, it’s about what there is to do, and Parkersburg has a lot to offer with so many restaurants.”

Van Dyke said though Marietta has plenty of restaurants on Front Street, the swelling market is looking for off-the-highway chains, like steakhouses and wing joints.

“We have two hotels on this street alone, and some 206 rooms that can be completely booked during the whole week,” Van Dyke said. “It isn’t really hurting us now not to have all those choices, but it certainly could if we don’t cater to those needs.”

It is that potential the company hopes to monopolize on, Schram said.

Buffalo Wings & Rings operates 45 U.S. locations and 10 in the Middle East. Ten more locations are anticipated in Ohio within the next three to five years.