Buffalo Wild Wings Unveils Restaurant of the Future
Since being scooped up by Roark Capital-backed Arby’s Restaurant Group for $2.9 billion last February and taken private as part of Inspire Brands, Buffalo Wild Wings has installed several visible changes. It refreshed its logo, launched a new a partnership and ad campaign, hired a president and chief marketing officer, and even introduced a $5 value menu for football season. But Monday’s sneak peek arguably provides the biggest future overhaul yet, at least from a physical standpoint.
In what Inspire—now the country’s fifth largest restaurant group after buying Sonic Drive-In—is calling “another key step in the evolution of the brand,” Buffalo Wild Wings unveiled a new restaurant design. Inspire said the design “brings Buffalo Wild Wings back to its roots as a great American sports bar and provides guests a unique and immersive experience to hang out, watch games, and create memories with friends.”
The first two models featuring the new design opened December 17 in New Caney, Texas, and Bowling Green, Kentucky. Two additional units are slated to open early January in Arden, North Carolina, and Fort Worth, Texas.
The refresh is Buffalo Wild Wings’ first since 2012. It includes a more prominent bar that anchors the indoor and outdoor dining experience. There’s free flowing and flexible seating areas, VIP spaces, stadium-like A/V technologies with LED modular screens, and a fully enclosed patio with rollup doors and skylights.
“Buffalo Wild Wings is all about creating legendary experiences between friends, and this new design was built to do just that,” Tick said in a statement. “We are giving guests the flexibility and freedom to truly be themselves and experience the game on their terms.” Tick was the managing director for Walgreens Boots Alliance beauty brands business in the Americas before joining Inspire Brands in September. He also worked for Bacardi, where he served as senior global category director, based in London, and vice president of marketing for North America, based in Miami.
Some of the exterior changes, as seen below, showcase wood, metal, and brick textures with Buffalo Wild Wings’ updated logo atop the entry, bordered by a yellow LED band. The new logo is recognizable for its neutral brown and honey mustard color palette and an updated buffalo that is forward-leaning.
The left of the front entryway features a glass door that provides access to the patio. Along the left side of the building, past the patio, is a dedicated entrance for Buffalo Wild Wings’ off-premises business.
Walking in, guests access an open layout with direct access to the bar, dining space, and two new concepts within Buffalo Wild Wings: the Dugout and the MVP room.
The indoor seating throughout mixes rectangular and round table tops. There’s also community tables and booths for parties of all sizes.
“We wanted to have a big variation of seating and allow guests to pull tables together as they please,” said Jim Cannon, SVP of design, architecture, and construction at Inspire Brands. “From the Dugout seating to the lounge area that’s in the patio, we’ve got booths, tables, chairs and even rails. Our guests now have choices they never had before.”
What’s the Dugout?
Buffalo Wild Wings created this new space as an extension of the waiting area near the front entrance by the bar. It features comfortable lounge seating and bleachers made from recycled basketball courts.
“The Dugout is a great space for guests to grab a drink, sit on the bleachers and watch the game while they wait,” said Luke DeRouen, VP of brand experience and activation at Buffalo Wild Wings. On a big night—like a UFC fight or a primetime NFL game the bleachers transform from a cool waiting spot to one of the best seats in the bar.”
The MVP room, another distinct new addition and only available to guests 21 and older, includes two 80-inch TVs, a third 60-inch TV, gaming consoles, and six self-pour beer taps (the amount could change by location).
The gaming extends from Xbox and PlayStation titles to classic Nintendo and Super Nintendo systems. Updated A/V technology will provide a “mini stadium environment,” allowing Buffalo Wild Wings to offer an esports gaming experience unrivaled in the casual-dining space. The competitive gaming can be shown from the MVP room across all screens in the restaurants.
“There’s nothing like this in the current Buffalo Wild Wings,” DeRouen added. “This space really serves as three experience functions: private viewing, gaming, and local activation. The local experience will be different for every community, and that’s exactly what we want. We now have an ideal spot to host local radio remotes and coaches shows, as well as an area for the local high school star to sign his Letter of Intent to play college ball.”
Bar in focus
The bar is front-and-center in the new design. It’s made from recycled basketball courts and serves signature domestic, import, and craft beer selections through two rows of taps. It also makes spirits more of a feature than in past restaurants and will enable a more ambitious cocktail program, Buffalo Wild Wings said.
In addition to an LED modular jumbotron screen overhead, the bar features TVs on all sides along with flexible and community tables. Guests can see screens no matter where they’re seated.
Turn it up
Buffalo Wild Wings invested in state-of-the-art audio and visual technology for the new design. The updated digital receiver can control all 4k TVs in the restaurant.
The chain also worked “to create a digital experience designed to wow its guests,” it said. This includes arena-like video screens with anti-glare technology that have the functionality to show sports programming in addition to popular gaming channels, such as Twitch.
Also unique to the design is LED environmental lighting, which provides the ability for Buffalo Wild Wings to create activated lighting events based on crowd noise. The lighting combinations can be customized to include the colors of pro, college, and high school sports teams. A microphone inserted into a panel in the ceiling unlocks the ability for Buffalo Wild Wings to use crowd noise as an activation point for the lights “to celebrate legendary sports moments in the restaurant.”
What else is going on?
Below is the larger dining area. It’s a flexible space of booths, single tables, and community-style tables. Buffalo Wild Wings can also open the room up as additional overflow from the bar or close it off to create a separate area. The dining area includes a second LED modular jumbotron screen that flanks the entire wall.
The patio, shown below, is enhanced with rollup garage doors, skylights, and direct access to Buffalo Wild Wings’ large, double-sided bar. An accordion glass door can be left open for diners to come in and out. It can also be closed off for private events.
The last feature is a takeout area enclosed separately with its own dedicated entrance. The space features a sauce bottle wall and TVs for guests. Outside there are designated parking spots for off-premises orders.