The Quest to Become a Big Player
The Quest to Become a Big Player

Buffalo Wings & Rings CEO Nader Masadeh discusses his rise to the top.

Providing an unmatched restaurant experience has been the driving force throughout Nader Masadeh’s entire life. Ever since the part-owner and CEO of one of the fastest growing concepts in the franchise industry, Buffalo Wings & Rings, got his first job working in the kitchen of his uncle’s Burger King in Cincinnati, he has been motivated to improve operations and enhance the possibilities within the restaurant space. For Masadeh, the restaurant industry has always been a family affair, and one he takes very seriously.

“My family helped instill a pride in offering guests the very best restaurant experience possible,” said Masadeh. “The faith that both my uncle had in my abilities by allowing me to manage another Burger King after showing promise in my first job, and then my father bringing me into his Gold Star Chili franchise business while I was just entering college, helped me learn the value of team work and dedication to a brand – and those tools have helped me as I’ve worked to enhance and improve Buffalo Wings & Rings.”

Masadeh’s work alongside his father at Gold Star Chili also helped cultivate an understanding of how to grow a business and the steps needed to become a successful multi-unit franchisee. He learned the need to listen and react to changing tastes of customers and the value of providing a dependable quality product. By the time Masadeh decided to purchase Buffalo Wings & Rings in 2005, he had developed a pedigree that would allow him to guide the brand toward a rebirth.

“The simplest keys to effectiveness and success in the restaurant industry are often overlooked with all of the bells and whistles out there in our modern age,” said Masadeh. “But it still comes down to making sure that the food tastes good and the guest walks away happy that they spent money with you. It’s as simple as that. If you can’t be fully confident your brand is delivering on those two things, then you need to reevaluate your concept.”

With that in mind, Masadeh and the new ownership team set to work on analyzing the Buffalo Wings & Rings brand and determining how to add life to the then 20-year-old brand. One critique they immediately voiced was that the brand’s lack of preparedness for the oncoming shift in the industry led by an emerging Millennial generation, which valued higher level experiences and had a much stronger female voice.

Masadeh and the Buffalo Wing & Rings team began laying the foundation for a rebirth by pulling the brand out of the “man cave” mentality and into a more elevated sports restaurant experience. From his years in the restaurant industry, Masadeh knew the importance of assembling a strong team, so he brought in a mainly female staff to help mold the voice of the brand and hired a new executive chef to elevate the menu. He also laid the groundwork for a full overhaul of the look and feel of the restaurant to make it more appealing to women and families.

That hard work has paid off. Today, Buffalo Wings & Rings is a 44-unit marquee brand paving the way for a sports-themed, full-service restaurant to have global growth. On the heels of 32 quarters of positive same store sales growth, the brand’s board placed Masadeh in the position of CEO and President. The brand’s success over the last decade and Masadeh’s appointment as CEO and President can, in part, be traced back to the approach he learned while just a teenager in his uncle’s restaurant.

“You have to be willing to take a look at your brand and constantly be asking yourself how it can be better, how it can improve,” said Masadeh. “I learned early on from my family that it’s never good enough just to provide an adequate experience, you should always be doing everything in your power to make sure that everyone that walks into your restaurant walks out looking forward to coming again.”

Buffalo Wings & Rings has enjoyed 16 consecutive quarters of positive same store sales growth and 13 percent average unit growth year-over-year for the last seven years. As reported in the Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report, Buffalo Wings & Rings is growing almost twice as fast as anyone else in the chicken wing segment. The brand enjoyed nearly 11 percent average unit volume increase from 2013 to 2014, while the next closest brand, Buffalo Wild Wings, experienced 6.6 percent growth.