Sports is big business, and not just for professional players and the owners of their teams. Every town, no matter how small, has at least one place for fans to congregate and cheer on their favorite team. However, these establishments have long turned off a wide swath of the viewing public, alienating plenty of potential customers.
Enter Buffalo Wings & Rings.
“Our take on sports is a little bit different from your conventional sports bar,” Buffalo Wings & Rings President and CEO Nader Masadeh said. “We’re a sports restaurant. Our spin is, you’ve got your rowdy fan zone at the ballpark – the area where people are spilling beer and shouting and cussing, and then you’ve got your club-level experience. The former may be great for a particular audience, but we cater to the people who want that elevated environment.”
While most brands zig toward the traditional man-cave experience, Buffalo Wings & Rings zags away from it.
“It’s not the average man-cave you get from the competition,” Buffalo Wings & Rings Director of Franchise Development Dan Doulen said. “It’s the kind of place where you can catch the game but feel comfortable bringing your family, not a dark sports bar.”
While the brand appeals to a larger audience than its competitors, it also zeroes in on exactly what sports fans are looking for. Think upgraded seats, booths with comfortable cushions, big-screen TVs in every corner and a top-notch audio/visual package to help fans see and hear what they want, when they want.
“We have a weekly schedule that goes out to all franchisees that has every sporting event and what channel it’s playing on,” Masadeh said. “Then individual franchises can customize to their viewing areas. For instance, in south Texas, you get a lot of soccer fans. In another area, you might see a lot of NASCAR supporters. Maybe in Florida there would be more golf.”
And, of course, when a major sporting event is taking place, Buffalo Wings & Rings ensures it becomes the go-to destination.
“If you’re in Cincinnati and the Bengals are playing, all the TVs will be on that,” he continued. “People are coming in for that specific experience, and we make sure we deliver it to them in the best package possible.”
At the same time, the brand has found the perfect balance between attracting sports fanatics and not alienating people who may not be as into athletics.
“Our restaurants are not dark or overly masculine and there are no neon beer signs in sight,” Masadeh said. “The wife can feel comfortable and find food on the menu she’ll love. The husband can grab a bowl of wings and a beer. And then the kids can be in the corner playing games. With the open layout and different zones of the space, it creates an environment that blends the best of the sports experience with an elevated restaurant.”
The zones Masadeh mentioned are an integral part of appealing to as many customers as possible. While families can enjoy the dining room and thirsty sports fans can relax in the bar area, the restaurants’ unique layout makes the separate zones feel like a single space while also offering enough separation to make everyone happy.
One look at the brand’s same-store sales – 17 consecutive quarters of growth – should make one thing clear to franchisees: It works.