Like any Buffalo Bills fan, Russ Mogavero was thrilled when the team pulled off a win in Kansas City. But Mogavero’s interest goes far beyond simply rooting for a team – his business depends on it. A winning season, or a losing one, has a direct impact on the Meadowbrook Restaurant and Bar at 6848 Erie Road in Derby, which he owns.
It’s a beer-and-shot type of place where loyal customers converge on Sundays dressed in Bills gear loudly cheering for their hometown team. Step up to the bar and one of the regulars is likely to buy you a backup and share their views on Bills coaching.
You’ll definitely want to stay for the chicken wings with homemade blue cheese – it’s Mogavero’s recipe handed down from his mother, Marie, who often stops in to oversee the kitchen.
During half-time of the Bills' game, Mogavero talked sports, secret recipes and business.
Question: People rave about the Meadowbrook’s homemade blue cheese. Can you tell us what’s in it?
Answer: It’s a secret recipe. It’s different. I’m not going to tell you, but people ask. My mom makes everything from scratch. I still make her own sauce. I still use the recipe. The meatballs, Italian sausage, everything is all homemade, the chili, everything. I make something and she’ll ask, “Did you put this in?” She’ll push me out of the way and take over.
Q: Do you consider your chicken wings barbecue flavor?
A: The sauce has a bit of a barbecue flavor to it - that’s another recipe she made up, too. It’s not your traditional butter and hot sauce kind. We also have garlic Parmesan wings. We’re made to order. If someone wants a traditional wing, I’ll do it for them. Wings are the most popular menu item. We have a bar menu - fingers, roast beef, fried bologna, burgers and we do a Friday fish fry.
Q: How did you get the family involved in the business?
A: Back in the late '70s, I tended bar here and then my family took it over. We’ve had it 37 years. My wife will help out and it’s a family business. My dad passed away nine years ago and my brothers help me out. It’s a local place and a sports bar. When we took over, we added the sports theme and it works well for us.
Q: Speaking of sports, how important are the Bills and Sabres to your business?
A: The better the teams do, the better the business. It absolutely has an impact. People will come in and then for home games, they’ll stop in for drinks and to eat. We have a daily happy hour and specials during the games.
Q: What really makes the Meadowbrook stand out?
A: We have great clientele. It’s a loyal clientele. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here. A lot of people don’t realize the work that goes into owning a bar. We’re pushing 40 years here. We saw the drinking age go from 18 to 19 to 21 and then the non-smoking. But Uber is a good idea. It’s great because there’s no taxi out here. We get a lot of people from Derby, Lake View and Angola. It’s been a good run. It’s a friendly bar like Cheers.
Q: Do you expect to be busy over the holidays?
A: We were very busy over Thanksgiving week. We’ll host holiday parties and a lot of Christmas parties. We’re getting into the Christmas spirit.