Minneapolis-based casual dining chain Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. plans to add about 90 new locations this year. The company had a very strong 2011, with revenues increasing 27.9% to $784.5 million, up from $613.3 million the previous year.
Buffalo Wild Wings currently operates or franchises around 815 restaurants in North America. The eateries feature a menu centered on Buffalo-style chicken wings served with more than a dozen unique dipping sauces. The restaurants also offer a few other menu items and dozens of beer choices.
Prior to going public back in 2003, the chain only had about 220 locations. Since then it has been expanding continuously. The company opened more than 85 new restaurants in 2011 after about 80 openings in 2010. Many Buffalo Wild Wings locations are found in suburban areas, typically near established retail and entertainment developments.
The sports bar and grill concept is designed to appeal to a broad mix of customers, but the chain promotes itself as a place for groups and families to gather and watch sporting events. Most locations have at least 50 high-definition television screens to make sure everyone has a good view of the big game.
Buffalo Wild Wings is working toward its goal of eventually reaching 1,500 locations, with plans calling for corporate-owned restaurants to make up about 40% of the chain and franchised locations making up the other 60%. Its large estate of company-owned and operated eateries accounts for the greatest share of the company’s sales (about 90%) and allows it to maintain control over the Buffalo Wild Wings dining experience, while its franchising efforts help expand the chain with fewer construction and operating costs.
Local franchise operators such as Michigan-based Diversified Restaurant Holdings typically pay the company royalties and other fees in order to use the Buffalo Wild Wings brand and marketing.
The chain opened its first international location in Toronto, Canada during 2011 and plans to have 50 Canadian outposts of the restaurant up and running by 2016.
Buffalo Wild Wings competes broadly against other casual dining chains, such as Applebee’s and T.G.I. Friday’s (owned by Carlson Restaurants Worldwide), but within its target audience the chain faces competition from Dave & Buster’s, the Fox & Hound chain of sports bars, and of course Hooters.
In an effort to stand out from its key competitors, Buffalo Wild Wings plans to debut a new marketing campaign this year and will continue expanding its online ordering capabilities. All Buffalo Wild Wings menu items are available for take-out, which accounted for about 13% of sales for the chain’s 319 company-owned restaurants in 2011.