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New Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant stirs surrounding neighborhood

By , Reporter  |  Friday, March 22, 2013 1:15 PM

A vacancy left by Cheapo Records paved the way for Buffalo Wild Wings to call the Snelling Avenue strip mall its new home, leaving local residents and students with mixed reactions.

Many St. Thomas students are excited for the new restaurant, which will be located 11 blocks from campus. Senior Michael Becker said Buffalo Wild Wings will be an exciting new addition to the area.

“I think it will certainly draw a lot of St. Thomas students. I know it’s a pretty popular hangout,” Becker said. “I think it will have an impact on St. Thomas in that it will give students another place to hang out and watch sports and build community.”

<p>Neighborhood resident Brian Quarstad created a virtual Buffalo Wild Wings to give community members an idea of what the final product will  look like. Quarstad said the mock-up isn't exact, but it is a pretty accurate depiction of what the restaurant chain will likely choose. The grand opening is not set, but construction is underway on 80 Snelling Avenue in the old "Cheapo Records" building. (Courtesy of</p>

Neighborhood resident Brian Quarstad created a virtual Buffalo Wild Wings. Quarstad said the mock-up isn't exact, but it is a pretty accurate depiction of what the restaurant chain will likely choose. (Courtesy of Brian Quarstad)

However, not everyone is excited about the restaurant. Many residents in the area aren’t sold on the venue settling into their historical neighborhood.

“(Buffalo Wild Wings) advertises that they are a place for a lot of fun and it’s loud and there are 40 televisions and a lot going on,” Resident Brian Quarstad said. “That is a concern because we still are a neighborhood.”

Quarstad, along with some other residents, created a Facebook page titled “Citizens for a Better Snelling Avenue” to raise awareness about the community’s concerns.

“Well it’s already a problem especially on weekends with O’Gara’s. Now we have a double whammy,” Quarstad said. “Especially on weekdays, I start work early in the morning, and I have to get to bed early. How is that going to affect neighbors and the neighborhood with loud noises, even if people don’t intend to?”

Becker said he can understand where the local residents are coming from, but he doesn’t think it will cause an issue between students and residents.

“I don’t think the neighbors or community should be upset with the university … because it is a business that is obviously not affiliated with the university,” Becker said.

One draw to the location is the close proximity to surrounding universities. St. Thomas Neighborhood Liaison John Hershey said St. Paul is broken up into planning districts, each with its own organizations that can make recommendations about the quality of life in their area.

“You’re putting this new thing, that is likely to attract a lot of people, into a residential neighborhood,” Hershey said. “You can imagine the kinds of fears that it brings.”

Freshman Ty Vincent said that the addition of a restaurant chain will benefit the area.

“A lot of the restaurants around this area right now are kind of locally owned,” Vincent said. “A lot of people like the big chains. I think that might help the revenue in the area.”

In terms of St. Thomas’ relationship with the local community, Hershey doesn’t expect that Buffalo Wild Wings will put it in jeopardy.

“I don’t see it as a university issue other than, if students go there and misbehave on their way home,” Hershey said. “As far as it affecting us or our relationship with the community, I don’t see that happening, but I do see the fabric of the neighborhood being threatened and changed by it.”

With a full liquor license, Buffalo Wild Wings could attract surrounding college students to the restaurant and bar setting. Hershey doesn’t think alcohol consumption should affect the view residents have on St. Thomas students.

“I think the larger concern with the community is probably just people in general. There is a subset of people who are of age who go to St. Thomas and who may go there (Buffalo Wild Wings),” Hershey said. “There is also a subset of Macalester students, of Concordia St. Paul students, of Hamline students, of any students.”

Quarstad said of 13 Buffalo Wild Wings in the Twin Cities area, this is the first one to be “plunked” down in a residential neighborhood, and they haven’t heard from the restaurant.

“So far, our communication has basically been with the land-use committee and somewhat with the Union Park Community Council,” Quarstad said. “There has been no communication with Buffalo Wild Wings, and that has been part of the frustration.”

Although there is some disagreement about the aesthetic appeal of the bright yellow signage and sports-oriented environment, the site is currently fenced off and construction is underway.

Quarstad said he can’t prevent the restaurant chain from becoming his new neighbor, but he would like it if the chain would work toward an agreement with the residents who love the area.

“We live here for a reason we like the city we like the diversity. We like the little small shops, we like the little small restaurants, we like all those those things. That’s why we live in the city we love that about the city, its vibrant,” Quarstad said. “We need them (Buffalo Wild Wings) to come out of that shell and kind of think that same way.”

Quarstad said residents have yet to hear when the restaurant will open.

Zach Zumbusch can be reached at zumb8499@stthomas.edu.

This item was posted in Diversions, News and has 7 comments so far.

7 Comments

  1. Trevor Johnston
    Mar. 22, 2013 7:53 PM

    St. Paul residents sure hate change, my goodness. Anytime a building is renovated or a new one is built there are rivers of tears leading out of city hall.

  2. John Willis
    Mar. 24, 2013 1:58 PM

    I am also having hard time understanding the issue. It seems to me like most of the noise will be contained within the building and the parking lot. 

  3. Brenda Natala
    Apr. 8, 2013 9:24 PM

    John, the parking lot noise is exactly what neighbors who live across Ashland are worried about. We are not so worried about noise coming from inside the restaurant, but we are very concerned about parking lot noise.

  4. Steven Johnson
    Apr. 9, 2013 6:05 AM

    If you’re are concerned about the parking lot noise then you MUST be concerned about the street just feet from the neighborhood you speak about…aka snelling ave.  Im not an expert or anything, but I think snelling ave creates quite a bit of noise. Should we protest that too? You’re argument along, with every other resident of that neighborhood, is so undefined and pathetic. You just dont like the fact that a large chain restaurant is moving in! Get over it! Its going to happen.  Oh and if you try to bust out the, “we are worried about the loud and noisy college student.” Dont! Because O’garas is just feet away from your hood and you seem to do just fine with those students stumblin home every Saturday Night.  Its time to check your elitist attitude at the door, Brenda!     

  5. John Gaylord
    Apr. 11, 2013 12:03 PM

    The mock-up looks gorgeous! Much better than the current site!

  6. Jack Fei
    Apr. 11, 2013 4:25 PM

    As a resident of Mac Groveland who lives nearby, I would very much like to see Buffalo Wild Wings succeed and thrive at this location. I posted the following on March 25:

    There will be tension between the Community (which obtains the benefit of economic activity) and the concerns of home-owners facing the prospect of disruptive change.
    It will take positive engagement between the developer / owner and the neighbors to create a win-win situation that enables Wild Wings to thrive while minimizing the negative impacts to bordering homeowners.
    The impacted community council needs to facilitate this and prevent negative organizing (based on mis-information, fear, and incidents about bad student behavior) from directly impacted homeowners to drive and frame the discussion.

    Sadly, negative organizing driven by nimby households directly impacted by the change have hijacked the public engagement process and will do so until the bitter end. There has to be a better way.
    :
    The neighbors right across the street on Ashland are the ones framing the discussion. They have valid concerns so they organize using fear, frustration and negative experiences with students to build a “I win – you lose” with Buffalo Wild Wings versus Union Park “neighborhood coalition” group. There has to be a better way.

  7. Thomas Allen
    Apr. 13, 2013 9:42 PM

    Sadly, St Thomas’ neighbors insist on having it both ways, again behaving like spoiled children. There is no better path with such unappealing people. Students are lucky they only have to put up with them for a few years.

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