"Levi" Harvey McBee is still somewhat surprised by just how much support the locals in Texas have shown his Buffalo Wings & Rings restaurant, with many regulars still coming in to his location once a week.
“After nine years, people still come in once a week,” said McBee. “They come in because we are their family--a customer just told me this last night.”
It is that family-oriented support in Texas that has the 70-plus unit Buffalo Wings & Rings seeing incredible success, especially in a Southeastern triangle linking Brownsville, Corpus Christi, and Laredo where the brand has an established presence.
With 13 locations already in the state, including a recent opening in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, the national brand is certainly starting to make a name for itself in Texas. And yet, McBee says there is still a lot of value in being with a smaller brand like Buffalo Wings & Rings.
“What makes Buffalo Wings & Rings successful is that we are family-owned and operated. Many people do not realize that we are a national brand, so they support us and treat us like family,” said McBee. “Overgrowth of restaurants in Texas could be a bad thing, but being with a smaller brand I see a ton of potential.”
That potential includes development of the Brownsville-Corpus Christi-Laredo triangle, along with growth towards some of the state’s bigger cities.
“McAllen and Brownsville are completely sold out, but we are looking to grow still with another location in Corpus Christi and one more in Laredo,” said Chief Development Officer Philip Schram. “We can also add multiple units in Eagle Pass, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston.”
Raúl Muñoz Jr., a franchisee and area developer for the brand, already owns the rights to three additional south Texas locations, but says that right now there is enough to keep him busy building a strong foundation at his Edinburg and North McAllen restaurants. However, Muñoz is confident that Buffalo Wings & Rings will continue to see incredible growth in a state that is sports-crazed and hungry for more elevated and family friendly options.
“With three NBA teams, two NFL teams, one NHL team and two MLB teams, Texas is huge on sports,” said Muñoz. “Buffalo Wings & Rings provides the perfect atmosphere to serve hot wings and cold beer to beat that Texas heat during game time.”
Like McBee, Muñoz also sees the family-values of Texas as a strong driver of success for the brand throughout the state.
“The brand awareness as a family environment has grown immensely. Usually, when people think of places that serve beers and wings, they associate with more of a sports bar environment. Our ambiance is more family oriented but still the place to have great times with co-workers or friends. We are going to be a staple brand in the wing industry,” Muñoz said.
The brand is coming off of a huge year in 2016 with 12 signings, and already this year is on pace to open up a new restaurant every month. In Texas, that growth will be continuing with a focus on some of the smaller cities surrounding the big focus markets of San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and Dallas.
“We do better in smaller cities where we are the big name in town,” said Schram. “We like to get them familiar with our name before we try to make it in the big city.”
Texas is a big state, ripe with opportunities for the right franchise operator, and those opportunities are as diverse as the people that make up the Lone Star State.
“Texas is diverse in itself,” said Muñoz. “We have had six different flags govern us, and each of those flags left its imprint as far as culture, people and, most importantly, cuisine.”