You may have noticed the demolition project in the old Cheapo Records location in the strip-mall on Snelling and Ashland on your way to Park Liquors or Starbucks and wondered, what would be the perfect accompaniment to the remaining enterprises Catch A Tan and Snap Fitness 24-7? Well, Macalester community, a Buffalo Wild Wings is planning on opening up shop after implementing a major renovation of the former record store. The sports bar known for its wings (as the name suggests) is being met with mixed reactions from the community.
The chain has 13 locations in the metropolitan area, including in Dinkytown, but this would mark the first Buffalo Wild Wings in St. Paul. Neighborhood activists against Buffalo Wild Wings moving into the community have formed an incredibly active and impassioned Facebook page, “Citizens for a Better Snelling Avenue.” Grievances range from concern over late-night noise and inebriation to increased traffic and inadequate parking.
A Facebook post by the group’s administrator refutes allegations that the coalition is anti-business by saying, “There are tons of businesses we’d rather have here. We like having Now Bikes, Snap Fitness, Cheapo Records, Patina, Dentists, Dairy Queen, accountants, therapists, boutiques, hair salons, coffee shops, bookstores, gift shops, sports equipment stores, music stores, cafes, yoga studios, the fire station (yes it’s noisy but we don’t complain), a liquor store, grocery stores and more in our neighborhood. We don’t like the idea of a sports bar.”
Additionally, community members raise aesthetic objections at the new plans for 81 Snelling, including demands for trees, flowers, and fences. But design worries aren’t limited only to those of a visual nature—some neighbors fear for their privacy. Upon learning that the remodel of the space would place windows facing Ashland Ave, one resident on that side street voiced the concern that “Patrons at a sports bar [would be] looking into my living room and bedroom?”
However, for many community members, Buffalo Wild Wings is a welcome addition to the restaurant and bar scene, it would provide a closer spot to grab a meal or a beer and would offer more seating than the Groveland Tap or the Blue Door, the current favorite student haunts. For those of you unfamiliar with Buffalo Wild Wings, the restaurant and sports bar is known for wall-to-wall TVs and individual electronic trivia consoles, which are actually really fun. There are a bunch of beers and mixed drinks to choose from, a variety of appetizers, burgers and even some salads. The main event is the wings, which come on the bone or boneless and serve as the vehicle for their 20 sauces and seasonings.
The role of Macalester students in this development has been invoked in the thread. This particular conversation on Facebook began with a post claiming solidarity on behalf of Macalester students. This thread ultimately devolved into questions of citizenship. The comments ranged from “temporary residents are people too. How long do you have to live in St Paul until you become a legitimate person?” to “You are legitimate once you pay property taxes.”
The major dissatisfaction seems to stem from the fact that it’s a chain sports bar coming in. This rebuke seems to overlook the fact that O’Gara’s, another bar, is within walking distance. Additionally, it seems that there is a bias against changing the fabric of the neighborhood. However, there are plenty of chains dotted along Snelling—including Cheapo Discs themselves, which has consolidated with their other location across the street. This attitude is especially incongruent when considering the avenue is already the home of big and not very prestigious chains like Arby’s, Dominos, Super America and Walgreens. This may not have been most Mac students’ first choice, but it’s hard to deny the convenience of a spot to meet up with friends to have a snack and a drink while playing some trivia games. And did I mention they have $0.60 wings on Tuesday?