BUFFALO WINGS & RINGS
Corner of 15th Street and Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, Florida
Restaurant Preview by David Arthur Walters
November 17, 2010
South Beach, Florida
Denis and Sule were hard hit by the Great Recession. His restaurant empire was crumbling and her real estate sales had tanked. They decided to team up and rebuild together. They married and now have a brighter future including a son with the most charming smile in sunny South Beach.
Denis has seven restaurants, down from fourteen, and will soon open several more. Given the remarkable assets the couple brings to the table, success seems assured as the economy picks up. They are both savvy when it comes to business. Her real estate experience will only complement his restaurant experience during the coming expansion. He happens to be the most agreeable restaurateur around, and that bodes well for customers. She is an attractive, diplomatic woman, not likely to be deceived by anyone, and that is certainly good for the enterprise.
Denis originally hails from India and Sule from Turkey. They are cosmopolitan enough for this world-class resort, and also as All-American as the name of their franchised 24-hour restaurant at the north end of Ocean Drive in chic South Beach – Buffalo Wings & Rings.
We are talking finger-licking good. Denis definitely adds value to the delectable offerings. He picked up his own Southern cooking skills in the Deep South, where he attended college and went into the restaurant business when a restaurant owner asked him to take over a losing operation, promising him a goodly portion of the profits if he turned it around. He did just that.
The South Beach Buffalo Wings & Rings restaurant is spacious, with an oblong dining room inside, a large round bar in an open-air room, and lots of outside seating on the patio. The patio fills up in the evening, and the crowd gravitates to the bar later on.
An amazing assortment of food is available besides the wings and rings: poppers, quesadillas, corndogs, gyros, shrimp, nachos, burgers, soups, salads, ribs, fish, wraps, sandwiches, desserts – the menu goes on and on.
Have breakfast to take advantage of pancakes or waffles galore: chocolate chip, strawberry with cream, banana with cream and the like pancakes and waffles. Or how would you like a delicious chicken steak fajita, or a tasty pull pork omelette?
By the way, if you have had your fill of American food, ask for the SOBE Indian Oven menu, and order yourself some tandoor, biriyani and the like. Have a chicken, lamb, or seafood dinner for around $16.
Denis and Sule are not in business to buffalo tourists into overpaying for a square meal. Their prices are economical for high-rent South Beach. Denis is always coming up with another special deal to undercut the regular prices. And local residents get a discount. He would probably give away the store if Sule did not curb his generosity.
Speaking of specials, I strolled up Ocean Drive, passing by the ubiquitous $4.25 breakfast specials along the drive to finally get a real breakfast special at Buffalo Wing Rings at the northern end of the Drive – just walk north across 15th Street, go up the steps and enter the restaurant on your left.
For those who are not familiar with the $4.25 Ocean Drive Breakfast Con, $4.25 magically turns into a $14.25 bill once you are charged for the coffee and refills, tax and tip. You may be able to negotiate the price down by getting an upfront agreement for free refills. Several budget-conscious tourists previously burned by the con were denied service when they returned the next morning with a cup of Starbucks java or thermos of coffee. Compare that with Buffalo’s $4.99 Breakfast Special, which includes 2 eggs, home potatoes, bacon, toast and coffee.
I dropped by Buffalo Wings & Rings the following evening to have a huge mug of Modelo, my favorite beer on draft, and a sampler platter of scrumptious snacks. Since then, the only complaint I have is when they run out of mugs and Modelo due to demand. I sat on the patio. The weather was perfect, hinting of the tourist rush to come. Denis was handling public relations while training the servers on the patio, doing his best to impress upon them the importance of little details, like making sure each table had a lighted candle. Sule was presiding over operations in back. I noticed that several of the servers looked like international models – it is the South Beach custom at higher end restaurants to hire servers for their looks regardless of experience.
I asked Denis if he found the beautiful ladies distracting notwithstanding the beauty of his wife. No, he said, his wife is much smarter than she is beautiful, and she does all the hiring and firing.