Clowning Around

It’s clear that Buffalo Wild Wings manager Jerry Wells doesn’t take himself too seriously. In fact, you could almost say he’s a clown. That’s because he is one.

Wells, bar manager at the Moline store, also happens to be a balloonist and former clown.

As a restaurant manager, Wells is in charge of hospitality: making visits enjoyable and encouraging customers to return. Wells got the idea to make balloon animals for children through a friend, and will offer to make them as he interacts with guests. While talking to a table, he will recommend balloons such as a monkey, teddy bear or flower.

For Wells, making balloon animals in the restaurant is all about timing, and the majority of the animals that he makes in the restaurant use two balloons. He prefers quick and easy animals that take about a minute to make, so that every customer hoping for a balloon gets a chance to receive one.

Wells has been making balloon animals for about 25 years. When he was younger, he met a man working as a clown and was impressed by what he saw.

“It was something I thought I’d be good at and was interested in,” he said. “I liked what I saw and wanted to be a part of it.”

Wells saw clowning as a good way to entertain others, and got into the business based on his gregarious personality. He knew that clowns could provide entertainment for audiences young and old, and felt that being a good people-person would help him to be successful. Aside from a friendly and engaging personality, part of clowning involves the ability to make balloon animals, and Wells is proud of his talent.

“Satisfaction would be a good word,” he said, “and maybe pride to an extent. Like with any skill, people are intrigued and impressed by what you can do.”

Wells has even taught a class on making balloon animals at a clowning convention, although it was by chance.

“There was a vendor and she was pretty busy,” he said. “So, being the goofball that I am, I hopped in the booth behind her and helped her out. She ended up liking me, and asked me to help the next year.”

Wells, who quit clowning around 10 years ago, also works as a DJ. After six years of clowning, Wells, his brother-in-law and his cousin began their own DJ company. Wells decided to blend the two, and would sometimes go to events with another clown to DJ.

“Being in the entertainment field, it’s really just all about the people, “Wells said. “What can you do for the people to make sure they’re having a good time?”

Wells eventually sold the company, and while he has yet to bring his DJ talents to Buffalo Wild Wings, he often puts his balloon-making skills on display when children are in the restaurant. Managers are supposed to be serious, but to Wells it’s all fun and games


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