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Buffalo Wild Wings' new small-format store debuts today in Edina

Buffalo Wild Wings’ new small-format concept is debuting in Minnesota today (Monday), offering 35 patrons free wings for a year.

B-Dubs Express, a smaller, streamlined version of the chain sports bar nicknamed “B-dubs,” will open at 7529 France Av. S. in Edina, the first of two storefronts planned for the state. The offshoot outlets will offer counter service and cater to takeout orders, though customers can dine in – and enjoy Buffalo Wild Wing’s signature TV lineup of sports programming – as well.

The menu, in addition to Buffalo Wild Wings’ traditional and boneless wings, will boast chicken tenders, salads, a chicken sandwich, a burger and buffalo mac and cheese. Draft and bottled beer and wine will also be available.

Beginning on Monday, patrons can submit entries to win free wings for one year, a distinction 35 will win. The drawings will take place on July 24 through July 30 at the Edina storefront. Additionally, Vikings’ wide receiver Stefon Diggs will be at the Edina location on Aug. 1 to serve wing orders and pose for pictures.

The second storefront, in the Knollwood Crossing Center at 525 N. Blake Rd. in Hopkins, will debut on Aug. 7, giving away free wings for a year to an additional 35 patrons. Both locations will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Burger Friday: Suburban chain Willy McCoy's serves big Juicy Lucys at low prices

The burger: You're familiar with Burger Friday? Plan ahead for Burger Monday, because at Willy McCoy’s, the first day of the work week is all about burgers, beer and bargains.

The growing chain – there are five locations, and a sixth is opening soon in Chaska – slashes the prices of its burgers (reguarly in the $9.99-to-$12.49 range) in half on Monday. Yes, 50 percent. All day.

There are a dozen varieties, swinging from a straight-up California-style format and a “breakfast” burger (a beef patty topped with a sunny side up egg, applewood-smoked bacon and Cheddar) to a Cajun-seasoned patty smothered in a jalapeno-fueled beer-cheese soup and topped with beer-battered and deep-fried jalapeno caps.  Oh, and the menu’s four Juicy Lucy options (Willy McCoy’s skips the whole Jucy Lucy spelling) are also included in the deal.

I opted for the “Juicy McCoy.” The bruiser of a 9-oz. patty was stuffed with an evergreen combination: Cheddar, bacon bits and red onion slices that had been softened – and ever-so-slightly sweetened – on the stove.

Unlike the Juicy Lucys that follow the ooze-and-lose format – you know, a bite into the patty’s center unleashes a veritable gusher of scalding, molten cheese that hopefully lands on your plate and not on your lap – this one was far more restrained. There’s a presence of cheese, yes, but it tends to remain in the patty’s center, and not everywhere else. For those who have been burned, literally, by overheated cheese, this restraint is a major Juicy Lucy evolutionary development.

The patty was taken to a uniform medium, with a slight exterior char, and probably would have benefitted from a more vigorous approach to seasoning. The ground beef was packed tight, a technique that allowed it to hold its shape even though its center was brimming with those tasty fillings.

Toppings included a lettuce leaf, snips of raw red onion, a so-so tomato slice and a flimsy garlic aioli. The chief attribute of the slightly toasted bun was its prodigious size, almost big enough to hold up to the weighty demands of that hefty, star-of-the-show patty.

Those who follow the bigger-is-better burger format will be very happy here. And those who appreciate a stellar bargain – particularly on Mondays – will be ecstatic.

Price: $12.49 Tuesday through Sunday, a pretty decent value. The Monday price, $6.25, is a total steal.

Fries: Included (other options include Tater Tots, coleslaw or vegetables with dip). They’re pre-made crinkle cuts, there’s a huge handful of them, and they’re fine. More salt couldn't hurt.

Get this: Nearly every beer on the bar’s lengthy tap list is a two-for-one situation. All day. Every day. At the Bloomington location, that’s 26 beers (they generally fall somewhere in between $5.50 and $8), including local favorites like Lift Bridge Brewing Co.’s Farm Girl, Summit Brewing Co.’s EPA, Badger Hill Brewing Co.’s Traitor, Excelsior Brewing Co.’s Big Island Blonde (pictured, above) and Surly Brewing Co.’s Hell, Furious and Todd the Axeman.

Burger-and-beer fans, take note: Drop in on a Monday, pair the two-for one beers with one of those highly shareable Juicy Lucys and Willy McCoy’s just might be the most affordable date night in town.

Bonus round: The restaurant’s Bloomington location comes equipped with a suburban rarity, a rooftop bar and patio.

Address book: 5651 La Centre Drive, Albertville, 763-515-3600; 13655 Martin St. NW., Andover, 763-767-6333; 12450 Business Park Blvd., Champlin, 763-422-5020; 6415 Hwy. 10 NW., Ramsey, 763-717-8916; and 10700 France Av. S., Bloomington, 952-456-8905. Opening in August at 320 Pioneer Trail, Chaska, 952-500-9645.

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