Al Hauck is more than ready for his latest restaurant to take off.

Buffalo Wings & Rings was supposed to be serving three months ago, Hauck said. But now the opening is in sight.

The “sports restaurant,” with its 46 TV screens opens to the general public on Wednesday, July 3.

“We’re 12 weeks behind schedule. We were supposed to open up in April. We’re excited we’re finally here,” Hauck said Wednesday, June 26.

In the meantime, soft opening sessions are being held with friends, family and other guests on to make sure kitchen and wait staff are up to speed.

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An employee at the new Buffalo Wings & Rings in West Fargo fries up some bacon Wednesday, June 26, 2019, as part of training in advance of the restaurant's opening. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)
An employee at the new Buffalo Wings & Rings in West Fargo fries up some bacon Wednesday, June 26, 2019, as part of training in advance of the restaurant's opening. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)Helmut Schmidt / The Forum

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It’s the third Buffalo Wings & Rings for Hauck and his wife, Mary. They also have franchise outlets roosting in Minot and Bismarck.

Hauck said the 244-seat eatery at 695 32nd Ave. E. stands ready to give customers their fill of sports, wings, burgers and onion rings, while keeping the whole family in mind.

“We are not just an adult only. We want children, we want the kids, we want the families,” he said.

Hauck promises the food will be “incredible.”

“Our food is all fresh. We don’t have any frozen proteins,” Hauck said. “When we say fresh, it’s fresh.”

Employees at the new Buffalo Wings & Rings in West Fargo are trained on how to prepare one of the restaurant's dishes on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. The restaurant opens Wednesday, July 3. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)
Employees at the new Buffalo Wings & Rings in West Fargo are trained on how to prepare one of the restaurant's dishes on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. The restaurant opens Wednesday, July 3. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)(Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)

The chicken wings and tenders are hand cut and breaded or grilled to your order. If you don’t want meat, you can even get a “cauliflower wing,” he said.

The variety of sauces for dipping and dunking is expansive.

“We have 16 sauces at five different heat levels, so that’s 80 different combinations and if that’s not enough, create your own, which people have done,” Hauck said.

Beyond the signature wings, Hauck said the restaurant makes top-notch onion rings, hand-pattied burgers, fish, sandwiches, quesadillas, salads - and for appetizer fans - buffalo nachos.

There is a full bar with 16 beer taps. And there are all those TV screens.

“We want to make sure you can catch whatever you want to catch. Whatever game you want to catch, we got it for you,” Hauck said, plus “we give you free wifi.”

The Buffalo Wings & Rings restaurant at 695 32nd Ave. E., West Fargo, pictured Wednesday, June 26, 2019, opens Wednesday, July 3. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)
The Buffalo Wings & Rings restaurant at 695 32nd Ave. E., West Fargo, pictured Wednesday, June 26, 2019, opens Wednesday, July 3. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)

A change of direction

Hauck and his wife, Mary, decided to take the leap into becoming restaurateurs a dozen years ago. He had been in the automobile business for 25 years, but they couldn’t afford to buy a dealership and he wanted a change.

After doing a lot of research, they settled on franchising with Buffalo Wings & Rings.

“We don’t go out to eat a lot, but if we do go out to eat, this is what we’re looking for. I love sports. She loves sports. Our kids are all into sports. But we found there wasn’t a lot of sports restaurants. There’s a lot of sports bars, but no place to take a family. But then we ran into this franchise,” Hauck said.

“It’s a small company, but this is perfect. If we’re going to go out, we want to go out where we can take the kids, watch a game and be a part of the game atmosphere,” he said.

They opened their first BWR in Minot about 10 years ago. Their Bismarck restaurant opened two years ago. The Fargo-Moorhead market seemed a logical next step, he said.

Hauck said the West Fargo BWR is designed to quickly be configured to handle larger groups of 10-20 people. There is also a separate room that can handle groups of 30 to 35.

“If a baseball team shows up or a traveling hockey team shows up, we can take care of them,” he said.

In 2015, the Haucks started an anti-bullying campaign called Mean Hurts. Hauck said they embraced the issue after one of their employees took her own life after being bullied in high school.

“We have seven granddaughters. We can’t eliminate the bullying, but we can sure make people aware that it is a bigger problem out there than I think most realize. It’s a national problem. When you talking 10-, 11-, 12-year-old kids thinking about suicide, we have to address it,” he said.

Hauck emphasized that he looks forward to joining the F-M food scene.

“I think West Fargo is a really cool community,” Hauck said. “Once the community gets to know us, I think they’ll be excited about what we offer to them.”