Food + Dining Main

Local Restaurants Give Southwest Florida Spice

BY March 24, 2014

Sitting outside at Sunburst Café on Saturday morning, my mother-in-law commented to me that during their month in Naples this year the one thing she really noticed was the preponderance of mom-and-pop restaurants, especially breakfast and lunch joints, in the area.

“We don’t have these,” she said of her hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. “If you want breakfast you have to go to Denny’s or Perkins.”

She wasn’t saying that as a dig on those longstanding casual dining chains as much as she was to express gratitude for the independent restaurants that make Southwest Florida’s dining scene so rich.

I was reminded of this today when the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce sent us a press release to remind us that they welcomed a new member at a grand opening the previous week—Buffalo Wild Wings.  Buffalo Wild Wings has decent wings, loads of TVs and a strong beer selection, all of which makes it a good place to watch your favorite team play.

But in promoting this new business, I couldn’t help feel a bit like the chamber, though not intentionally, was doing so at the detriment of one of Bonita Springs’ oldest restaurants, Buffalo Chips, which offers the same things as its new neighbor (except it has a superlative version of the venerable chicken castoff). It should be noted that Buffalo Chips is a member of the chamber, too.

You can go to Buffalo Wild Wings at hundreds of locations throughout the country. You can only go to one Buffalo Chips. Sure it doesn’t have as many TVs, the tables are way too close together and parking can be a pain. But it has a certain charm that can’t be replicated and serves as an authentic reminder of days when Bonita Springs was more than just North North Naples.

There are plenty of wonderful franchisees operating chain restaurants throughout our area, the employ a lot of people and are good for the economy. But they send their profits back to the same places where they imported their style.

Think about that the next time you are in Bonita Springs and hungry for wings.