Lunch at the Hangar, Where Massive Platters Prevail

Heather brings out 'The Gas Tank' at the Hangar.
Heather presents "The Gas Tank," at the Hangar, part of the Wings Empire.

Six hours ago, I had lunch with Ed at The Hangar in Amherst. I am still so full I refused a very tempting dinner of grilled chicken…I just can’t imagine eating for a long, long time. That’s because I ingested the regular–monster-sized nachos with chicken, which for $6.99 comes on such a big platter that the idea of finishing them myself quickly became a joke.

We sat with owner Harold Tramazzo, who told us he once ordered nachos at a neighboring bar and the relatively miniscule portion for $10.50 made him laugh.

Tramazzo has franchised his wing business to 21 locations, and owns six others himself.  He likes big university towns and warns franchisees that this is a tough business. “When I first got into business, I was afraid I’d lose my house. I slept in the restaurant some times.”

Today the Hangar is the only bar in the chain, and it’s a classic workingman’s joint. We counted nine ball caps among the 30 or so patrons, 98 percent of whom were men.  Men with gigantic appetites, who were digging into massive platters of wings with airplane  names like Puddle Jumper, DC-10, and for the really hungry, The Zeppelin.

For our lunch, Ed ordered “The Gas Tank,” which was two huge 1/4 lb hotdogs bathed in a cheese and chili sauce. A mountain of fries rode the sturdy plate to the table. No way he was gonna finish, like many of the items here it was just too big to even think of digesting.  I was content with the gigantic nachos, and a few Sierra Nevada drafts.

Heather our server looked rather fetching in her rakish santa’s hat, as Harold told us about the empire he has built up in 12 years.  There are franchised Wings Over locations in Arkansas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and seven company-owned wing joints in New England, all specializing in delivery.

We knew our lunch at the Hangar was a deviation from our regular choices of Asian cuisine and more delicate fare. But it was fun being here in the midst of Amherst’s tradesmen in the manly environs of this sports bar. A sign on the jukebox warned that no music is played while Boston sports teams are playing on the TV.

We may be a little fuller than we would like to be now, six hours later, but at the time it was a festive and tasty lunch decision.

The Hangar, 55 University Drive Amherst, 413-549-9464. You can order deliveries of wings until 2:30 am on Fridays and Saturdays.