While Buffalo Wings & Rings, the elevated sports restaurant concept out of Cincinnati, has been operating for more than 30 years, the brand’s entry into the Columbus market happened about a dozen years ago – and was the result of a group of buddies from The Ohio State University with a love for quality wings.
“A bunch of college friends and I were in an investment club and we always met at wing restaurants to discuss ideas. We loved wings but didn’t think our regular spot operated their business very well so that gave us the idea to look into wing restaurants as an investment opportunity. We looked at 10-12 different wing concepts over the course of a week, which is how we discovered Buffalo Wings & Rings,” said Buffalo Wings & Rings franchisee Greg Mackanos.
Buffalo Wings & Rings boasts more than 75 locations across the globe and just ended a successful 2017 where the company hit the $100-million mark for domestic system-wide sales for the first time while also growing restaurant count by more than 10 percent.
In 2006, when deciding on the right brand for them, Mackanos and his friends met the Buffalo Wings & Rings leadership team and were impressed. Now-CEO Nader Masadeh, who had just purchased the company along with partners including Philip Schram, who serves today as the company’s Chief Development Officer, outlined their vision for the brand. The friends bought in to the vision that the new ownership group had for Buffalo Wings & Rings and saw opportunity to invest early in a brand poised for growth, as they had just started to franchise.
“We went back and pitched the idea of opening a Buffalo Wings & Rings restaurant to the club, and everyone said yes. But when it came time to actually do it, everyone backed out but my partner and I,” chuckled Mackanos. “We found a great spot in Grove City, just south of Columbus and loved the area – and have loved it ever since.”
Buffalo Wings & Rings loves what they feel is possible in the Columbus market. The proximity to the home market of Cincinnati makes it an ideal market to provide direct support from the corporate team through construction, opening and then during the lifespan of the restaurant. The company has scouted the market extensively and has identified areas primed for growth including Dublin, Hilliard, Grandview, Westerville, New Albany, Pickerington and more.
First Columbus Location Doubles Business
The Grove City Buffalo Wings & Rings opened doors on July 11, 2007 and according to Mackanos they have doubled their business since then.
After the opening in Grove City, Buffalo Wings & Rings opened two more locations in the greater Columbus area before the end of 2008, including one on Broad Street in eastern Columbus and another just north of the city in Lewis Center.
Now, with the success those three locations have experienced and with two more locations in development in Gahanna and in nearby Obetz, Buffalo Wings & Rings is focused on expansion in the Columbus market.
“We have had a continued and successful presence for more than 10 years in Columbus and it’s the closest major market to our home market of Cincinnati,” said Schram. “A lot of people travel from Cincinnati to the state capitol and the I-75 corridor is good for brand awareness. Now that we’ve almost fully saturated Cincinnati, Columbus makes sense strategically. Also, several wing concepts were born in Columbus. The people in Columbus like wings, sports and beer. It's ingrained in the DNA of the market and we think we have ample opportunity to grow.”
Corporate Support in Columbus to Help with Brand’s Growth in Market
Doug Morrison, a Franchise Business Manager for Buffalo Wings & Rings who lives in Columbus, is in the market to help support the growth. A big fan of The Ohio State University athletics like Mackanos, when he’s not at the corporate offices or traveling to see franchisees outside of the state, Morrison can be found in any of the three Columbus area locations as part of the brand’s investment in strong corporate support for franchisees.
“We have the bandwidth to really expand our presence in the Columbus market,” said Morrison. “We’re a growing city and there are countless areas of the market that are booming such as the Easton Town Center and the upcoming POLARIS development. I could rattle off another four to five areas that are perfect for our concept, and we’d still have room for more. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity today for Buffalo Wings & Rings.”
Those in the greater Columbus area interested in the Buffalo Wings & Rings franchise opportunity should have liquid capital of $300,000 or higher and a net worth of at least $1-million. Investment to open a Buffalo Wings & Rings franchise ranges between $1.2-million and $3-million.
“We have a very supportive group of franchisees that exist in the Columbus area already and they want to grow the market,” said Morrison. “The more locations we open and the stronger presence we have, we can market even more and improve trial and enhance loyalty. We believe in working as a team throughout the area to make sure the brand is thriving overall. We do regional marketing in the area and as we grow, we'll be able to do bigger and better things.”
As he nears 11 years with the Buffalo Wings & Rings brand, Mackanos believes that the model itself is key to any franchisee’s success.
“We've got it set up now that if you follow the program correctly, you're going to be successful. If you go outside of the program, you won't be successful. The key for us is being consistent. Our wings are great. Before I decided to become a franchisee with Buffalo Wings & Rings, I used to eat wing four days a week and would never go to a place that didn't have great wings. Our wings are the best. We simply have the best product out there. Every day and every year it just gets a little bit better.”