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FDD Talk 2016: The Buffalo Wild Wings Franchise Opportunity (Financial Performance Analysis, Estimated Costs, and Other Important Stuff You Need to Know)

by Franchise Chatter on May 19, 2016

in Chicken Wings Franchise, FDD Talk 2017: Food Franchises, Franchise Earnings, Sports Bar Franchise



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Buffalo Wild Wings Photo by Mike Mozart

In this FDD Talk 2016 post, you’ll learn the following:

  • Section I – Background information on the Buffalo Wild Wings franchise opportunity, including relevant news updates
  • Section II – Estimated initial investment for a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise, based on Item 7 of the company’s 2016 FDD
  • Section III – Presentation and analysis of Buffalo Wild Wings’ financial performance representations, based on Item 19 of the company’s 2016 FDD, including information on the:
  • 2015, 2014, and 2013 average, high, and low gross sales for Buffalo Wild Wings Franchised Restaurants having 4,601 or more square feet (the “Traditional Footprint”) that were opened after January 1, 2001, and which had been in operation for a full 12 months as of the company’s fiscal years ending December 27, 2015, December 28, 2014, and December 29, 2013
  • 2015, 2014, and 2013 average, high, and low gross sales for Buffalo Wild Wings Franchised Restaurants having 4,600 or less square feet (the “Small Footprint”) that were opened after January 1, 2001, and which had been in operation for a full 12 months as of the company’s fiscal years ending December 27, 2015, December 28, 2014, and December 29, 2013
  • 2015, 2014, and 2013 average, high, and low gross sales for all Buffalo Wild Wings Franchised Restaurants (both Traditional Footprint and Small Footprint) that were opened after January 1, 2001, and which had been in operation for a full 12 months as of the company’s fiscal years ending December 27, 2015, December 28, 2014, and December 29, 2013

Section I – Background Information

When friends James Disbrow and Scott Lowery moved from Buffalo, New York to Kent, Ohio, they were sorely disappointed that they couldn’t find a place that served their favorite food, the buffalo-style chicken wings that had originated back home. The year was 1980, and Disbrow was in Kent to judge an amateur figure skating contest. The two got together and bemoaned the lack of buffalo wings, but then asked why not take matters into their own hands to bring buffalo wings to this part of the world?

They opened Buffalo Wild Wings and Weck, which is the origins of one of the chain’s common nicknames – BW-3 (that final W, by the way, is for the beef on weck style of sandwich, which was another Buffalo staple). The first location was in Columbus, Ohio, which opened back in 1982. They created 14 signature sauces and rounded out the menu with a full offering of burgers, sandwiches, ribs, and salads.

In 1990 the name of the chain was changed to Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar. Now headquartered in Minneapolis and going by another nickname (B-Dubs), the number of locations has been growing steadily over the past ten years to its current 1,170, which includes 562 franchised, 594 company-owned, and 14 outside the U.S.

Here’s how Buffalo Wild Wings keeps customers licking their fingers and asking for more in the wings segment:

A Winning Atmosphere

The company describes itself as a “no-holds-barred” restaurant offering its full menu in a relaxed atmosphere where people like to hang out with friends and family. It offers wall-to-wall flat screen televisions for sports viewing, video gaming, and a full bar. The concept is pretty simple: Watch sports, drink beer, and eat wings.

Saturated Domestic Market?

Interestingly enough, when you visit the franchising part of the website, the chain is not accepting new franchise inquiries for U.S. domestic locations, so if you want to get in on the action, you’ll have to go the international route.

Side Ventures

The chain has also branched out beyond its wings restaurants. Back in 2014 it made a minority investment in a fast-casual custom pizza franchise called PizzaRev, which included franchising rights in Minnesota. It was talking about opening 25 locations in that state, but after opening just two, it has decided to not expand its presence further in Minnesota.

The company also made a majority investment in R Taco, which used to be called Rusty Taco, and is actively expanding that chain.

Leveraging Football

A couple years ago Buffalo Wild Wings became the title sponsor of the Citrus Bowl, one of the longest-running bowl games in college football history. It uses the sponsorship to roll out all kinds of menu and social media promotions, as well as to raise millions of dollars for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, giving kids the opportunity to play interactive games with college athletes.

Women in Charge

Of the seven top management executives of the chain, four are women, which is pretty impressive, including CEO Sally Smith, Executive VP and President of North America Buffalo Wild Wings Judith Shoulak, Executive VP and Chief Strategy Officer Kathleen Benning, and Senior VP and General Counsel Emily Decker.

Section II – Estimated Costs

  • Please click here for detailed estimates of Buffalo Wild Wings franchise costs, based on Item 7 of the company’s 2016 FDD (updated).

Section III – Financial Performance Representations (Item 19, 2016 FDD) and Analysis



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