Mark Dundas, left, and business partner, Dain Phelan in front of their brightly colored chicken wing restaurant Heavenly Buffaloes in 2014. A Chapel Hill location of Heavenly Buffaloes will open on Franklin Street in March. Chuck Liddy cliddy@newsobserver.com
Mark Dundas, left, and business partner, Dain Phelan in front of their brightly colored chicken wing restaurant Heavenly Buffaloes in 2014. A Chapel Hill location of Heavenly Buffaloes will open on Franklin Street in March. Chuck Liddy cliddy@newsobserver.com

Morning Newsletter

Heavenly Buffaloes wants to open new spot when wings are needed the most: March Madness

February 21, 2018 05:42 PM

CHAPEL HILL

For the upcoming Chapel Hill location of crazy popular wing shack Heavenly Buffaloes, owner Mark Dundas has set a big opening target: The ACC tournament. He’s 80 percent sure they’ll make it.

The second Heavenly Buffaloes will open in the next two or three weeks in the former Sandwhich space at 407 W. Franklin St., in downtown Chapel Hill. (The ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament begins March 6.)

Dundas and Dain Phelan started Heavenly Buffaloes in 2014 as a 311-square-foot wing-frying closet, but it quickly grew into one of the Triangle’s go-to wing spots. On a typical weekend, Dundas says an astonishing amount – literally thousands – of wings fly out of the kitchen at the mostly to-go joint.

The Chapel Hill location will be more of a traditional restaurant, including a dining room with seating for 73, plus a patio. Other new features include six TVs, a roster of draft beers and more than a dozen cans and bottles. Most of the menu will match Durham’s, with bone-in, boneless and vegan wings, waffle cut fries and more than two dozen sauces and rubs. There are also a few new menu items for Chapel Hill: a fried chicken thigh sandwich that can be tossed in any of Heavenly Buffaloes’ sauces and a salad.

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It will be more fast-casual than full service. Diners will order from a counter and wait for their food, but at 2,400 square feet, it will be much larger than the Durham location. Dundas said demand has been there since the beginning in Chapel Hill.

“Within six months of opening (in Durham), people would tell us they were driving up from Chapel Hill,” Dundas said. “We thought we had given it long enough.”

Heavenly Buffaloes signed a lease in October, as Sandwhich closed, and is nearing final inspection. It will keep the same hours as the Durham location: open until 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday; until midnight Monday through Thursday; and until 10 p.m. on Sundays. Delivery will be available up to 2 1/2 miles away.

While this is the second stand-alone Heavenly Buffaloes, the company had a satellite fryer last year in The Bullpen bar next door to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Wing service ended there late last year as the Bullpen started offering its own menu.

Though the Chapel Hill location will be newer, bigger, serve a larger student body and catch more foot traffic, Dundas said the shack remains the undisputed flagship.

“The gangsta shack on Markham will be there forever,” Dundas said.

For more, go to heavenlybuffaloes.com.

Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson

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