How many chicken wings will Buffalo Wild Wings sell tonight? Will it reach its March Madness sales goal of 100 million chicken wings? It very well might, reports Bloomberg Business, which is why B-Dubs is the envy of fast casual competitors like Olive Garden and Outback Steakhouse. In the past decade, the number of locations has more than tripled from 300 to 1,000. And last year, those 1,000 restaurants turned over $1.5 billion in revenue.
The secret to Buffalo Wild Wings’ success isn’t actually the wings, according to Bloomberg. It’s entertainment. The company (which was founded in 1982) was an early adopter of high-def and flat screen TVs, which helped attract young customers who couldn’t afford cable at home. More recently, it has redesigned its restaurants to mimic a stadium. In the last two years, B-Dubs has invested $200 million into building 118 “stadia” in which the focal point of the restaurant is a central bar with massive “jumbotron” screens overhead.
Photo: Facebook/ Buffalo Wild Wings
The new restaurants also have more windows and natural light, moving away from the traditional dark sports bar and creating a more inviting, family-friendly atmosphere. Kids can play video games on tablets and Wild Wings even has its own Fantasy Football app called GameBreak, all of which drives engagement and helps keep bottoms in seats a little bit longer—long enough for one more beer or one last basket of wings.
The wings themselves are B-Dubs’ main moneymaker, but they’re a highly volatile commodity to rely on. Over the last five years, wing prices have yo-yo’d between 76c and $2.04, and no-one has yet managed to figure out how to predict the extreme fluctuations.
After the final tonight, BWW has a “Goodnight Madness” ad spot scheduled. According to Bloomberg, it’s part of a summer campaign to draw customers in for less popular sports like rugby and skateboarding. The biggest challenge for a business that relies on sports viewers, is how to keep sales up when there aren’t a lot of big games on. B-Dubs ability to keep growing rests largely on how well it can tackle that problem.
Now, watch G-Unit’s Tony Yayo take on the First We Feast hot wing challenge.