Big screens and wild wings

Getting jazzed about a new sports eatery and the potential of a second

Being married to a former sports writer, I’m fairly sports savvy. I brought a healthy knowledge of the NFL to our relationship, but Nick fortified our union by introducing me to college football, professional baseball, and perhaps most important, buffalo wings. So when I heard a new restaurant centered around sports just opened in Chico, and then a rumor about yet another sports eatery with an emphasis on wings coming to town, I was pretty jazzed.

The first is Shenanigan’s, which officially opened its doors last week in the old Albatross building as an upscale sports bar and restaurant. In my short time in Chico I’ve seen the north Esplanade building house The Albatross, The Gooney Bird, Blue Flame, The Albatross again, and now, Shenanigan’s. Shenanigan’s may just have a winning combination with owner Tamara Garner’s spunk and focus on service.

The restaurant looks great, with sports memorabilia hanging on the walls (a signed Ted Williams Red Sox jersey is among the lot), but what I’m sure will draw people in is the culture Garner is creating around customer service.

Garner hails from Las Vegas and moved to the area a few years ago. She spent 14 years running a staffing company that provided wait staff, bartenders and other hospitality personnel to bars and restaurants on the Strip. She’s a burst of energy and someone you’d love to have a beer with. And that’s her vision: to create a relaxed atmosphere where customers can enjoy the company of their friends and those serving them.

Garner mentioned that she created a job fair of sorts when she hired her wait staff, bringing about 300 applicants to the restaurant. She asked bartender candidates to come to follow-up interviews dressed in costume and had them serve up three of their favorite drinks to Garner’s friends and business partners. I’m looking forward to ordering food and drinks from the dynamic, outgoing crew after a long day at the office.

When I was chatting with Garner, she reiterated a rumor that I’ve been hearing for a few weeks about Buffalo Wild Wings, a national chain restaurant, coming to the North Valley Plaza, on the heels of Wingstop opening in the Mangrove shopping center late last year.

Inquiries made to Buffalo Wild Wings media representatives were not fruitful, so I called up North Valley Plaza owner Lucy Parks to see if she could let me in on any information. Parks wouldn’t confirm Buffalo Wild Wings was moving in, but did say that the North Valley Plaza is getting two new restaurants, offering a glimmer of hope that one of them might be BWW. Parks also said that the vacant building that once housed Michael’s has a new tenant. Again, she couldn’t reveal the business, so you’ll have to watch this column for future updates.

After losing Mervyn’s and having long undeveloped lots, I’m excited for the new activity at the plaza. A place there to eat some tasty sauce-slathered wings would just hit it out of the park.