Buffalo, Florida

I was down south this past weekend visiting family and I decided to check out a local sports bar to watch the Buffalo Bills football game. A quick search for Bills gathering spots leIMG_5031d me to RonDao’s, a pizzeria in Fort Myers. I rolled in around halftime and found cars parked on every inch of road within two blocks of the place; it was a game day feel before I even stepped through the door.

RonDao’s is a nice spot for transplanted northerners to enjoy their favorite team, a scene that must be common in countless cities across the country. That said, it was also a brand new subculture for me. In a sprawling room covered with LCD televisions and sprinkled with Bills posters, there were 400+ people decked out in Bills jerseys, Bills hats, and, in at least one instance, a Bills tattoo. If you squinted, you could have easily been in Buffalo…well, except for the tan lines.

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As fans trained their eyes on one of the 65 LCD TVs, a cheery wait staff decked out in referee jerseys served food and drinks on any flat space: tables, bars, re-purposed pool tables, even a foosball table covered with a piece of plywood (bearing the Bills logo, of course). I shared a corner with Rob from North Buffalo, Rob’s girlfriend Cheryl, and Eddie from Cheektowaga. At one point, I asked Eddie about the wings, and he said “It’s no Duffs, but they’re pretty good.” Motioning towards a dish of wings, he then asked “want to try one before you order?”

IMG_5053As it turns out, RonDao’s has pretty good wings, and the fans are a lot like those in Buffalo. They are friendly and enthusiastic, they sing “Shout” after touchdoIMG_5072 (1)wns, they complain about the refs, and they ring cowbells after big plays–which seemed to be really important to the slightly over-served guy in the Jim Kelly jersey. The atmosphere certainly mirrored the game day experience in Buffalo—but without the snow, and without a guy in front of me with a giant inflatable Bills helmet.

As the afternoon went on, Eddie from Cheektowaga bought me a beer, the Bills lost in a close game, and I won an appreciation for why people come to dimly lit bars on sunny Sunday afternoons. Familiarity is a beautiful thing–especially away from home–as is finding a connection to others. Perhaps the only thing more important is finding really good wings.

                                       Thankfully, these kinds of designations are well regulated.

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