Sports fans, listen up. If you are looking for a great sports bar to watch the Bills take on the unbeaten Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, you might want to check out the Nifty Fifty at 7710 Buffalo Ave., in Niagara Falls, where besides football and your favorite beverage, you will be able to enjoy a lost treasure, Pizza Junction-style pizza, for free.
That’s right, that culinary delight from the days when Pizza Junction was riding high will be offered free of charge on Sunday courtesy of the Nifty Fifty’s new management team. And it will be prepared under the care of Ryan Fleckenstein, who used to be the general manager and chef at Pizza Junction on Erie Ave. in North Tonawanda, one of the four Junction establishments that used to be among the most popular pizza spots in the area, with Fleckenstein featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-in and Dives.
“Our pizzas were tagged as “Pizzalicious,” said Fleckenstein, referring to the name the show apparently used to describe the best pizzas around. Pizza Junction was “Pizzalicious,” and according to Fleckenstein, it still is.
“I guarantee that Bills fans that come to the Nifty Fifty looking for great pizza and other food, they won’t be disappointed,” said Fleckenstein Wednesday, already excited about Sunday’s big day and the food he plans to be serving during and after the game, including the free Junction-style pizza and of course wings and other great football-watching food.
“We want folks to check out the Nifty Fifty and see what we have to offer,” said Fleckenstein. “I know Sunday is a very big game against the Bengals who are coming to town undefeated. So I thought this would be a good day to get us on the local sports bar map and let folks know we have plenty of televisions, lots of great food, and a great atmosphere.
“I thought offering free pizza might be a good way to attract folks to our place, give them an opportunity to check us out, and I’m sure they will come back after they see what we have to offer. We know the regulars will be here, but we are looking for folks from beyond Niagara Falls to stop in. We are definitely only a short drive from many locations in the area, right on Buffalo Ave. minutes from the Grand Island Bridge, and we have numerous TVs, including big screens, to give folks great game action.”
And there should be plenty of great game action to watch on Sunday as the Bengals, led by fifth-year quarterback Andy Dalton and coming off a stunning comeback victory over the Seattle Seahawks 27 – 24, will be visiting the Ralph to take on the 3 and 2 Buffalo Bills who may or may not have Tyrod Taylor at the helm.
The exciting Taylor has a strained MCI suffered last week in leading the Bills, mostly with his legs, to a 14 – 13 win over the Titans, rushing for a franchise-record 76 yards including a dazzling 22-yard TD scamper. But he’s beat up and sore, has been bothered by an ankle injury since training camp (little did we know), and now has the strained MCI. But he might still play. Ryan is not saying he will or he won’t.
“I know it’s been widely reported that Tyrod is not playing,” Ryan said Wednesday. “That’s news to me. That may or may not be the case, but that’s certainly not official. We’ll see how it goes.”
Taylor wants to play on Sunday, and so does wide receiver Sammy Watkins who has been sidelined with a calf injury. Watkins said this week that he hopes to play Sunday, saying “it’s a big game, they’re 5 – 0.”
Dalton is firing on all cylinders this year for the Bengals, and went 13 for 15 for 135 yards in the fourth quarter to help Cincinnati stay undefeated with the overtime win over the Seahawks. In fact, Dalton leads all quarterbacks in fourth quarter passing rating.
In my view, this is a statement game for the Bills who likely will need Taylor to have a chance, although risking a further injury to their quarterback must be a factor in the decision to play him or not. If he can’t go, the Bills will have to rely on GM Doug Whaley’s favorite quarterback, EJ Manuel, who thus far in his career has been a major disappointment with his inconsistent play. And for some reason—possibly cap space or Whaley’s infatuation with Manuel-- the Bills traded away Matt Cassel to the Cowboys for a future draft choice and now are stuck with Manuel in case Taylor can’t play.
We’ll have to wait a few more days, maybe right up to game time, to see who is in and who is out. There is one thing for sure, however, and that is the hometown crowd will be fired up and so will the many thousands more who will be watching on television as the Bills face perhaps their biggest game in quite a while.
If you are not going to the game and are planning to go to a sports bar to catch the action with fellow fans and maybe enjoy some great football food, as I said at the beginning you might want to check out the Nifty Fifty at 7710 Buffalo Ave., and get some free pizza--Pizza Junction-style-- and you might just find a new place to enjoy local sports on TV and dine on some great food.
Game time is 1 p m. Food will be on for game time.