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Neighbors lead herd to Buffalo Wings & Rings

Modesto restaurant Buffalo Wings and Rings in the Village One shopping center in Modesto Wednesday afternoon for Scene section restaurant profile. (Adrian Mendoza / The Modesto Bee)
Modesto restaurant Buffalo Wings and Rings in the Village One shopping center in Modesto Wednesday afternoon for Scene section restaurant profile. (Adrian Mendoza / The Modesto Bee)

Sports on nine flat-panel screens, pub fare and an easygoing atmosphere make Buffalo Wings and Rings a welcome neighborhood hangout for Modesto's previously restaurant-starved Village I area.

Buffalo Wings and Rings is a family-friendly franchise based in Cincinnati. The Modesto lunch and dinner spot is owned by Theresa Costa, a native of Modesto who was looking for a place to open and discovered the franchise on the Internet.

Costa opened Wings and Rings in March and quickly gained a following of regular customers. Many come from the Village I neighborhood, where a swath of houses covers a chunk of northeast Modesto but was, previously, barren of supporting businesses. That changed last year with the opening of the Village One Shopping Center — at the corner of Floyd and Roselle avenues — anchored by Raley's Supermarket.

As soon as Wings and Rings opened, it found a fast following from the area's residents, despite the flailing economy, Costa said.

"We're doing pretty well," she said. "We have a lot of regulars. We've been very fortunate."

A cost-friendly menu — highlighted, of course, by wings — and an almost-nightly slate of specials have helped drive that good fortune.

Wings can be ordered in bowls from five to 100, with a choice of eight sauces in a range of five heats — from mild to atomic.

"(Customers) always say they can eat our atomic sauce, when, really, most of them can't," Costa said. "It's pretty hot."

Also on the menu are salads — such as the Chicken Tender Salad, a generously meat-topped Gyro Greek Salad and Greek Isle Salad — sandwiches, wraps, pitas and burgers. The "Rings" part of the name comes from curly fries, not onion rings, although a hearty basket of onion rings is part of an extensive starter menu. There's a popular homemade blue cheese dressing for wings and salads, and Costa said they make batches and batches of fresh chili.

Part of the family-friendly bent is a Monday kids-eat-free night for ages 10 and under. Other specials are 49-cent wings night on Tuesdays, 49-cent boneless wings on Wednesdays and 99-cent chicken tenders on Thursdays. Every weeknight welcomes a happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. with $1 10-ounce domestic and $2 premium beers.

— Pat Clark

Restaurant: Buffalo Wings and Rings

Location: 3020 Floyd Ave., Modesto; 551-9464

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays-Saturdays

Price ranges and house specialties:

Well, wings, of course. They're available in bowls of five to 100, priced from $4.99 to $57.99. Sauces are the house original, teriyaki, sweet barbecue, roasted garlic, lemon pepper, Cajun, crazy and garlic Parmesan. Coming in second are the chicken tenders, three to 25 for $4.99 to $31.99. You can get the wings and tenders from mild to atomic on the spice scale.

Also on the menu are a variety of burgers, gyros, quesadillas, salads, sandwiches and wraps. Most entrees start at the $5.99 mark and top out around $8.99. Starters, soups and sides are $2.49 to $7.99 and include stuffed jalapeños, popcorn chicken, nachos, sloppy fries (with chili and shredded cheese), Saratoga chips (deep-fried thinly sliced potatoes topped with a garlic seasoning), the curly-Q fries that make up the "rings" in the restaurant's name, and onion rings. Chili is made regularly on site, as is the house's blue cheese dressing.

Bar: Beers — bottled and on tap — and five varieties of wines

Reservations: Accepted, but not necessary

Accepted payments: All credit cards, ATM and cash. No checks.

For children: The Lil Buff's menu includes popular kids selections such as chicken tenders, grilled cheese sandwiches and mini corn dogs with a side of curly fries and a soft drink for $3.99. High chairs and booster seats available.