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BY CORY WOODROOF 

Monday marked the end of not just a Cool Springs one-stop-shop for buffalo wings and televised sports.

With the closing of Buffalo Wings and Rings off of International Dr. comes the loss of a key benefactor for Williamson County athletics.

The restaurant, franchised by Mark Cross, announced last week it would be shutting down its county location and served its final meals Oct. 1.

Buffalo Wings and Rings had been a partner of the county’s athletic efforts, sponsoring various teams and programs and hosting athletic-related events.

The sporty wings spot also hoisted photos of WillCo athletes and teams on its walls, making them a central focus of all who dined there.

WillCo Athletic Director Dr. Jeremy Qualls spoke to how he met Cross some time ago to discuss a partnership between the county and the restaurant.

“About two hours later…we were best friends,” Qualls said. “He loved the vision of the conference and everybody together. He’s a former coach himself, played collegiate football up north. [He] just loved everything about [county athletics].”

From then on, Cross and his business became key sponsors for athletic affairs in the county.

“[Cross] was a partner of ours,” Qualls said. “He was so involved with everything that we did. We had all of our athletic director meetings out there. I’m very appreciative of the fact that our teams and support systems and booster clubs have all supported him as best they could. I know that there have been a ton of team banquets out there.”

Qualls spoke to how positive the relationship was for his department, not just from a business standpoint.

“[Buffalo Wings and Rings gave us] probably the most positive feedback I’ve gotten from any one partnership that we’ve had,” he said.

“A lot of people have always mentioned how nice Mark was, and how they loved that restaurant, [and how they are] appreciative of the fact that they’re involved with us. I hate the fact that they’re no longer going to be here.”

The county will seek out a new local partner or partners to pair with on these types of activities.

Though, to Qualls, the gap left by Buffalo Wings and Rings will not be a simple one to fill.

“It’s a big void,” Qualls said. “I think about the perfect match that they were for us. It was obviously a sports-themed restaurant, family-centered restaurant, that bought into the community.

“[Any future partner has] got to fit that perfect mold, which is what [Buffalo Wings and Rings] did.”