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Buffalo Wings & Rings to Launch New Restaurant Franchise Prototype to Improve Franchisee Investment Model and Appeal to Broader Audience

The sports-themed restaurant franchise with nearly 80 global locations listened to what current franchisees and prospective franchisees are looking for in future investment opportunities.

By Ben Warren1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSORED 8:20PM 04/05/20

Over more than three decades, family-and-sports-restaurant concept Buffalo Wings & Rings has carved out a sizable niche for itself as an alternative to more traditional sports bars, where food and customer service are too often treated as an afterthought. Now, the 80-unit restaurant franchise is launching a smaller, reengineered restaurant, built with cost-savings for franchisees and designed to meet evolving consumer preferences.

“A smaller footprint will both reduce the initial investment and the ongoing operational costs,” said Thomas Flaherty, Buffalo Wings & Rings’ new Chief Development Officer. “In addition, the new layout is designed to encourage more guests visiting us, as well as larger group sizes.”

“Existing and prospective Franchisees absolutely have to love the product, the food and the business model. They also need to believe that the investment makes sense. We have done a lot of listening to our current franchise owners as well as prospective buyers, and we’re excited about where we’re headed!”, Flaherty said.

One of those franchisees is Mike Weyer, a multi-unit Buffalo Wings & Rings owner in Jasper, Indiana who has been with the brand for more than a decade.

“Back in 2007, I took the baseball team I was coaching to the BW&R location in Richmond, and we starting eating there every single night — there was something new to try,” he said. “They insisted we needed one in our town, and a year and a half later, I opened my BW&R in Jasper. I can honestly say of all the investments I've made, I'm happiest with the two BW&R locations I've opened."

Among the new spaces the brand is introducing with its new store model will be a redesigned patio with a fire pit, a lounge and a U-shaped bar located closer to the middle of the restaurant than the previous design’s straight bar, which occupied the far side of the building. Each of these spaces has been designed to accommodate food and drink service and offer unobstructed views of multiple televisions. These changes have been designed and tested with franchisees to appeal to the preferences of consumers, particularly millennials. 

Buffalo Wings & Rings is also creating new and better accommodations for take-out customers and third-party delivery services, two massive revenue streams for restaurant owners that will increase the focus on the top line.

“We are extremely focused on the initial investment, unit economics, and addressing evolving consumer trends, and what the industry is seeing right now is a major push toward convenience, particularly through third-party delivery services,” Flaherty said. “The new design will include a system that allows customers and delivery drivers to drive up, pick up their order without even getting out of their cars and be on their way quickly. That is going to open up an incredible opportunity for our owners to make our customers’ lives easier with multiple, seamless ways to enjoy our high-quality food.”

Buffalo Wings & Rings is gearing up to open its first redesigned store in Milford, Ohio, just outside of the franchise’s hometown of Cincinnati, later this year. After that, Dan Doulen, the brand’s Director of Franchise Development, said we’re incredibly excited about the future growth potential of Buffalo Wings & Rings.

“One of the beautiful things about the new design is its flexibility,” Doulen said. “We can build a free-standing store or renovate a converted space, and because of the smaller footprint, we can set up shop in a wide variety of locations.”

Though the franchise’s upcoming upgrades are major steps forward for Buffalo Wings & Rings, Flaherty said that, in a way, they are simply more of the same from the legacy brand.

“This project is about more than redesigning our buildings and bringing more customers in,” he said. “It’s an exercise in evolution, efficiency and continuous improvement. We’re taking what we’ve been doing, what customers already love about us, and we’re making those things better for our guests.  We’re also focusing on profitability for our Franchisees. We’ve always been about great service, high-quality food, fun and community, and those are the same principles guiding our next evolution in store design”