Tonawanda News — There was no soft opening.
Apparently the locals had been watching the corner on Military Road and Niagara Falls Boulevard in Niagara Falls for months after a colorful sign was placed that read: Duff’s Famous Wings.
The chicken wing restaurant that prompted President Barak Obama to stop between flights, and which also won a televised food war against the restaurant where wings were invented, finally opened in Niagara Falls late in July.
The soft opening the new owners had planned on never happened. The place has been jumping from the start, say the four owners who were fans of Duff’s wings long before they became franchise owners.
“We’re long-time customers. We’re very familiar with the brand and the food,” said Maged Natanios, one of the owners. “We love it.”
“When we thought about opening a Duff’s it was almost simultaneous — Niagara Falls,” added Natanios, noting that the four come from a large Lebanese family who used to picnic in the state park when they were children. Sam Mansour, an uncle to the three others, also owns a grocery store in the city.
There was also easy consensus among the four on where in the city they would open their new franchise.
“This corner screamed at us,” said Charbel Natanios, brother to Maged. The fourth partner is Jean Maalouf, who is married to Charbel and Maged’s sister, Rosemary.
All of the four have other jobs. Sam works at the family grocery store at 13th Street and Pierce Avenue. Maged has a job in Bethesda, Md., working for Marriott International; Charbel co-owns a UPS store in Cheektowaga; and Jean owns Versailles Salon and Day Spa in Williamsville.
None of the four were prepared for the enthusiastic reaction to their opening July 22.
“We’re blessed,” said Maged. “People just kept streaming in.”