AYER -- A writing project produced surprising results last week when representatives from Buffalo Wild Wings Restaurant's Leominster location showed up at Page Hilltop Elementary School -- buffalo and all -- toting prizes for Pedro Mendez and his fellow students in Sherry Marshall's fifth grade class.
The visit was occasioned by Pedro's letter to his favorite eatery, one of the many that Page Hilltop students wrote as an exercise in opinion-writing and sent to the restaurants they named.
The students' letters went to a lot of different restaurants in the area, said Page Hilltop Principal Fred Deppe. But only one responded.
"They wanted to thank Pedro for his letter," he said. So the visit was arranged and kept under wraps until the big day.
Pedro's two-page essay was studded with exclamation points and capital letters, which his teacher emphasized when she read it aloud to the class. It began with with a declaration, short and to the point.
"In my opinion, Buffalo Wild Wings is the best restaurant ever." he wrote.
He then listed the reasons why, including "delicious food" -- described in detail -- and a fun environment with "fans screaming andcheering" for their team and games he likes to play.
Enumerating his food choices, the student critic first noted "AMAZING" sweet barbecue sauce that was "sort of spicy with the hot wings." Second, "the arcade games were cool," he wrote, listing a few and naming his favorite: "Claw machines!!!" When he won, he was "happy, he wrote, polishing off the sentence with four exclamation points.
Finally, the entertainment. "I love the football games playing with the huge TV's." He set the scene, with "lots of people... shouting yah!! when teams scored and made good plays."
Summing up, Pedro said BWW is "amazing," with wings, games and entertainment. He signed his letter, "Your biggest fan."
Pedro's letter impressed the restaurant's general manager Tim Pryer and his team, including Jane Fitzgerald, both of whom came to meet Pedro and help the costumed BWW mascot, Sulmaan Khan, hand out gifts galore to him and his classmates, including logo baseball caps, water bottles and towels, gift cards for kids' meals and writing supplies for the classroom.
"We get lots of mail, but this letter caught my eye," Pryer said.
"We passed it around, " Fitzgerald added.
Pedro said he was totally surprised buy all the buffalo-hoopla. So was his mom, who was invited to come but not let in on the secret ahead of time. Asked what he likes to do for fun, besides writing and eating at his favorite restaurant, Pedro, who has two siblings, said he's not too into video games but wants to play football someday. Now, he enjoys "exploring and playing outside," after school, he said.