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Is Buffalo Wild Wings a Franchise? Everything You Need to Know

Buffalo Wild Wings (BWW) is a popular American sports bar and restaurant chain known for its mouthwatering chicken wings and wide selection of beer. Many aspiring entrepreneurs and investors wonder if Buffalo Wild Wings is a franchise and what it takes to become a part of this successful brand. In short, Buffalo Wild Wings is indeed a franchise, offering opportunities for individuals or groups to open their own restaurant under the BWW brand. However, there are certain requirements and procedures that must be followed to become a franchisee.

In order to become a Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee, interested parties must possess the necessary financial resources and meet specific criteria set by the company. The potential franchisees are expected to have a minimum net worth of around $1.5 million, with liquid assets of at least $750,000. This demonstrates the commitment and financial stability required to successfully run a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise. Additionally, previous experience in the restaurant industry is preferred, although it is not always mandatory.

Once the initial requirements are met, the franchisee will go through an application process, which includes submitting a detailed application form and attending various interviews and meetings with Buffalo Wild Wings representatives. This helps ensure that the potential franchisee aligns with BWW's values, goals, and operational standards. If approved, the franchisee will be offered a franchise agreement and will be responsible for finding a suitable location, securing financing, and overseeing the construction and operation of the restaurant.## What is a franchise?

A franchise is a business model in which an individual or company, known as the franchisor, grants a license to another party, known as the franchisee, to operate a business under their established brand, systems, and support. Franchising allows the franchisee to benefit from an established business model and brand recognition, while the franchisor expands their business by leveraging the resources and capital of the franchisee.

Franchises are found in various industries, including restaurants, retail, hospitality, and service-based businesses. They offer a unique opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs to start their own business, with the advantage of guidance and support from an established brand.

Here are some key characteristics of a franchise:

  1. Brand Recognition: Franchises typically operate under a well-known and established brand, which helps attract customers and build trust in the marketplace.

  2. Proven Business Model: Franchise systems have already fine-tuned their business operations, marketing strategies, and customer service processes, increasing the chances of success for the franchisee.

  3. Training and Support: Franchisors provide comprehensive training programs and ongoing support to help franchisees understand and implement the established business practices. This support can include everything from initial setup assistance to ongoing marketing and operational guidance.

  4. Shared Marketing Efforts: Franchises often benefit from collective marketing efforts organized by the franchisor. This can include national advertising campaigns, online presence, and local marketing strategies designed to enhance brand visibility and attract customers.

  5. Standardized Operations: Franchisors maintain a level of consistency across their franchised locations by implementing standardized operational procedures, product specifications, and customer service protocols. This ensures customers receive a consistent experience regardless of the location they visit.

  6. Financial Considerations: Franchise agreements typically involve financial obligations, such as franchise fees, royalties, and other ongoing payments. These costs vary depending on the franchise and its specific terms.

It's important for prospective franchisees to thoroughly research and evaluate the franchise opportunity before making a decision. Understanding the benefits and obligations of franchising can help individuals determine if it aligns with their goals and aspirations as an entrepreneur.

Introduction to Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings is a popular American sports bar and restaurant chain known for its delicious chicken wings and extensive variety of sauces. With a casual and lively atmosphere, it has become a go-to destination for sports enthusiasts and food lovers alike.

A Brief History

Buffalo Wild Wings was founded in 1982 by Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery in Columbus, Ohio. The inspiration for the restaurant came from Disbrow's desire to find a place that served authentic Buffalo-style chicken wings, reminiscent of those he enjoyed in his hometown of Buffalo, New York. The initial success of the restaurant led to its expansion, and Buffalo Wild Wings quickly gained a devoted following.

The Franchise Model

Buffalo Wild Wings operates primarily as a franchised business, meaning that individual entrepreneurs can own and operate their own Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant under the brand's banner. Franchising has been a key factor in the rapid expansion of Buffalo Wild Wings, allowing them to establish a broad presence across the United States and internationally.

Number of Buffalo Wild Wings Franchises:

Year Number of Franchises
2015 1,044
2016 1,188
2017 1,237
2018 1,241
2019 1,250 (approx.)

The Brand Experience

Buffalo Wild Wings is known for its unique brand experience, which combines the love for sports with delicious food and a lively atmosphere. The restaurant typically features multiple large-screen televisions, allowing patrons to enjoy various sports events simultaneously. This makes it an ideal place to catch the big game with friends and family.

Highlights of the Buffalo Wild Wings brand experience:

  • Wide selection of chicken wings with various flavors and heat levels
  • Extensive beer and drink menu to complement the food
  • Sports-themed decor and a vibrant atmosphere
  • Friendly and attentive staff providing excellent customer service
  • Interactive entertainment options like trivia games and arcade machines


As a franchised business with a strong emphasis on providing a unique sports-centered dining experience, Buffalo Wild Wings has successfully carved out its place in the restaurant industry. With its delicious wings, broad selection of sauces, and lively atmosphere, it continues to be a favorite destination for sports enthusiasts and food lovers alike.

Is Buffalo Wild Wings a franchise?

Buffalo Wild Wings is indeed a franchise. It operates under the parent company Inspire Brands, which is a multi-brand restaurant company that also owns other popular chains such as Arby's and Rusty Taco. As a franchise, Buffalo Wild Wings allows entrepreneurs the opportunity to own and operate their own restaurant under the established brand name.

Here are some key points to know about Buffalo Wild Wings as a franchise:

  1. Franchise Expansion: Buffalo Wild Wings began franchising in 1993 and has since expanded its franchise network both nationally and internationally. The company has over 1,200 restaurants in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and other countries.

  2. Franchise Opportunities: Entrepreneurs interested in owning a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise can apply through the company's official website. The franchisee selection process involves thorough evaluations and considerations to ensure the potential franchisee meets the brand's standards.

  3. Support and Training: As a franchisee, Buffalo Wild Wings provides support and training to help ensure the success of the business. This includes assistance with site selection, restaurant design, marketing strategies, and ongoing operational guidance.

  4. Strength of the Brand: Buffalo Wild Wings has established itself as a popular destination for sports enthusiasts and those seeking a casual dining experience. The brand's focus on serving a variety of flavorful wings along with a sports-centric atmosphere has contributed to its strong customer appeal.

  5. Menu and Offerings: Buffalo Wild Wings is renowned for its extensive menu variety, which ranges from traditional and boneless wings to an array of sauces and seasonings. Additionally, the brand offers a range of other items including burgers, sandwiches, salads, and appetizers. This broad menu selection increases its appeal to a wide customer base.

  6. Growth Potential: Despite facing some challenges in recent years, Buffalo Wild Wings continues to explore growth opportunities, both internationally and domestically. The brand's strong market presence, combined with Inspire Brands' resources and expertise, positions it well for further expansion.

In summary, Buffalo Wild Wings is an established and well-known franchise that offers entrepreneurs the chance to own and operate their own restaurant under the respected brand name. With a proven track record, extensive support, and a strong customer base, becoming a Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee can be an enticing opportunity for aspiring business owners.

How does Buffalo Wild Wings operate?

Buffalo Wild Wings is a well-known American sports bar and restaurant chain that operates as a franchise. This means that individual entrepreneurs can own and operate their own Buffalo Wild Wings locations under the company's brand and with its support. Here's a closer look at how Buffalo Wild Wings operates:

Franchise Model:
- Buffalo Wild Wings follows a franchise business model, which allows individuals to become franchisees by entering into a contractual agreement with the company.
- Franchisees are granted the right to operate their own Buffalo Wild Wings location, typically within a specific territory, using the company's established brand, menu, and operating systems.
- Franchisees are required to pay an initial franchise fee and ongoing royalties to Buffalo Wild Wings, in exchange for access to its business systems, marketing support, and other benefits.

Support and Training:
- Buffalo Wild Wings provides extensive support and training to its franchisees to ensure their success. This includes assistance with site selection, lease negotiations, restaurant design, and construction.
- Franchisees receive comprehensive training on Buffalo Wild Wings' operating procedures, food preparation, customer service, and marketing strategies.
- Ongoing support is also provided through regular field visits, regional meetings, and a dedicated support team that assists franchisees with any operational or business-related challenges.

Quality Control:
- Maintaining consistent food quality and customer experience is crucial for Buffalo Wild Wings. Therefore, the company enforces strict quality control standards across all franchise locations.
- Franchisees are required to adhere to prescribed operational procedures, food preparation guidelines, and health and safety regulations to ensure consistent quality across the brand.
- Buffalo Wild Wings regularly conducts audits and inspections to ensure compliance with its standards and provides feedback to franchisees for continuous improvement.

Marketing and Advertising:
- Buffalo Wild Wings has a strong marketing and advertising strategy to build brand awareness and attract customers. This includes national advertising campaigns, digital marketing initiatives, and local store marketing support.
- Franchisees contribute to a cooperative advertising fund and benefit from the collective marketing efforts coordinated by Buffalo Wild Wings' corporate management team.
- The company also provides guidance and resources to franchisees for implementing effective marketing campaigns at the local level.

Overall, Buffalo Wild Wings operates as a franchise, allowing entrepreneurial individuals to become part of its brand and benefit from its established systems, support, and marketing strategies. The franchise model provides an opportunity for individuals to own and operate their own Buffalo Wild Wings location while leveraging the strength of the brand and the support of the company.

Steps to Becoming a Buffalo Wild Wings Franchisee

Becoming a Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee involves several key steps that aspiring entrepreneurs should follow. Here, we outline the process to provide you with an overview of what it takes to join the Buffalo Wild Wings family as a franchise owner.

  1. Research and Preparation: Before diving into any franchise opportunity, it is crucial to conduct thorough research. Potential franchisees should familiarize themselves with Buffalo Wild Wings' business model, values, and the market it operates in. Understanding the brand's target audience and competitive landscape can help in making informed decisions.

  2. Initial Application: Once ready to move forward, aspiring franchisees can complete an initial application available on Buffalo Wild Wings' official website. This application serves as an expression of interest and provides the company with valuable information about the prospective franchisee's background and business experience.

  3. Evaluation and Qualification: Buffalo Wild Wings evaluates each application carefully, considering factors such as financial stability, business experience, and alignment with the company's values. If the initial application is successful, prospective franchisees will be invited to participate in further evaluations and interviews.

  4. Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) Review: Upon completing the evaluation stage, qualified candidates will receive Buffalo Wild Wings' Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). The FDD contains detailed information about the franchise opportunity, including the company's history, financial statements, franchise agreement, and obligations of both the franchisee and franchisor. Prospective franchisees are encouraged to seek legal and financial advice while reviewing the FDD.

  5. Site Selection and Training: Successful candidates will collaborate with Buffalo Wild Wings' real estate team to identify suitable locations for their franchise. The company offers guidance and expertise during this process to ensure potential sites meet the required criteria. Additionally, comprehensive training programs are provided to franchisees, covering various aspects such as operations, marketing, and customer experience.

  6. Franchise Agreement and Financing: If all requirements are met, the franchisee will proceed to sign the franchise agreement, mutually committing to the terms and conditions set forth by Buffalo Wild Wings. Franchisees will also need to secure the necessary funding to cover initial investment costs, which may vary depending on the size and location of the restaurant.

  7. Grand Opening and Ongoing Support: After the establishment is constructed and ready for operation, Buffalo Wild Wings provides support with marketing, advertising, and ongoing operational assistance. Franchisees will have access to the company's resources, systems, and a network of experienced professionals to ensure their business flourishes.

Becoming a Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee requires dedication, financial stability, and a passion for the brand. Following these steps can set aspiring entrepreneurs on the path to owning a successful Buffalo Wild Wings franchise.

Steps to Becoming a Buffalo Wild Wings Franchisee
1. Research and Preparation
2. Initial Application
3. Evaluation and Qualification
4. Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) Review
5. Site Selection and Training
6. Franchise Agreement and Financing
7. Grand Opening and Ongoing Support

Requirements to Become a Buffalo Wild Wings Franchisee

To become a Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee, there are certain requirements that interested individuals or companies need to fulfill. These requirements ensure that potential franchisees possess the necessary qualifications and resources to successfully operate a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise. Here is an overview of the key requirements:

  1. Financial Stability: Prospective franchisees must demonstrate strong financial stability. They should have a minimum net worth of $1.5 million, with liquid assets of at least $750,000. These financial resources are essential to cover initial investments, such as franchise fees, equipment purchases, and working capital.

  2. Restaurant Experience: Previous restaurant or hospitality experience is highly valued by Buffalo Wild Wings. Franchisees should have a solid background in restaurant operations, including managing staff, overseeing customer service, and understanding financial metrics. This experience helps ensure that franchisees have the necessary skill set to run a successful Buffalo Wild Wings location.

  3. Multi-unit Development Experience: While not mandatory, having experience in multi-unit development can be advantageous. Buffalo Wild Wings prefers franchisees who have successfully operated multiple units or have experience managing a diverse portfolio of restaurants. This background demonstrates the ability to allocate resources effectively and manage operations on a larger scale.

  4. Commitment to Growth: Buffalo Wild Wings looks for franchisees who are committed to growth and expansion. Franchisees should have a desire to develop and operate multiple Buffalo Wild Wings locations within a specific territory. This commitment aligns with the brand's growth strategy and helps ensure a long-term partnership.

  5. Local Market Knowledge: Understanding the local market and having knowledge of the area where the franchise will be established is essential. Franchisees should be familiar with the target customer base, local competitors, and community dynamics. This knowledge allows franchisees to tailor their operations to meet the specific needs and preferences of the local market.

  6. Brand Alignment: Prospective franchisees must align with Buffalo Wild Wings' brand values and culture. They should uphold the brand's commitment to exceptional guest experiences, quality food and beverages, and a vibrant sports-centric atmosphere. Franchisees should also embrace Buffalo Wild Wings' community involvement initiatives and be actively engaged in local sports sponsorships.

By meeting these requirements, potential franchisees can position themselves as strong candidates for owning a Buffalo Wild Wings location. It is important to note that meeting the initial requirements does not guarantee acceptance as a franchisee; further evaluation and approval by Buffalo Wild Wings are necessary.

Benefits of owning a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise

Owning a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise comes with several benefits that make it an attractive opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs in the food industry. From a strong brand identity to comprehensive support systems, here are some key advantages of owning a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise:

  1. Established brand presence: Buffalo Wild Wings is a well-known and established brand in the restaurant industry, with a loyal customer base. This recognition can significantly boost the chances of success for franchisees, as customers are more likely to trust and frequent a familiar name.

  2. Proven business model: As a franchisee, you can benefit from a business model that has been refined over time through the experience and success of the brand. Buffalo Wild Wings has already identified what works and what doesn't, allowing franchisees to focus on executing the proven strategies for profitability.

  3. Training and support: When you become a Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee, you gain access to comprehensive training and ongoing support from the franchisor. This includes initial training programs to help you understand the brand's standards, operations, and best practices, as well as ongoing support in areas such as marketing, supply chain management, and staff training.

  4. Marketing and advertising: Buffalo Wild Wings invests in national and regional marketing campaigns to promote the brand as a whole. As a franchisee, you can benefit from the increased brand visibility and leverage the marketing efforts of the franchisor. This helps drive customer traffic to your location and strengthens the overall reputation of Buffalo Wild Wings.

  5. Purchasing power: Joining a franchise network like Buffalo Wild Wings gives you access to the collective purchasing power of the brand. This can result in significant cost savings on supplies, equipment, and ingredients. By bulk-buying, franchisees can lower their expenses and improve profit margins.

  6. Continuous innovation: Buffalo Wild Wings maintains a strong focus on innovation and staying ahead of industry trends. As a franchisee, you can benefit from ongoing product development and menu enhancements, ensuring that your offering remains fresh and appeals to evolving customer preferences.

Overall, owning a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise provides entrepreneurs with the opportunity to be part of a recognized brand, receive extensive support, and benefit from an established business model. These advantages, combined with the love for wings and sports that the brand embodies, make it an appealing choice for individuals seeking a turnkey solution in the restaurant industry.

| Advantages of Owning a Buffalo Wild Wings Franchise |
| ● Established brand identity |
| ● Proven business model |
| ● Comprehensive training and support |
| ● Leveraging national marketing efforts |
| ● Collective purchasing power |
| ● Continuous innovation |

Risks and Challenges of Owning a Buffalo Wild Wings Franchise

Owning a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise can be an exciting and profitable venture for entrepreneurs looking to enter the restaurant industry. However, like any business opportunity, there are risks and challenges that potential franchisees should be aware of. This section explores some of the key considerations when considering a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise.

1. Initial Investment and Ongoing Costs:

  • Opening a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise requires a significant initial investment, which includes franchise fees, leasehold improvements, equipment, and inventory.
  • Franchisees must also bear ongoing costs such as royalty fees, marketing expenses, and the cost of sourcing ingredients and supplies.
  • It is important for potential franchisees to carefully analyze their financial situation and ensure they have the necessary funds for both the initial investment and ongoing operational costs.

2. Competitive Market:

  • The restaurant industry is highly competitive, and franchisees must be prepared to face competition from other casual dining establishments in their area.
  • The success of a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise relies on the ability to attract and retain customers, deliver quality food and service, and differentiate from competitors.
  • Franchisees should conduct thorough market research to identify their target audience, understand local competition, and devise effective marketing strategies to stay ahead.

3. Labor Costs and Workforce Management:

  • One of the ongoing challenges for franchisees is managing labor costs, which can significantly impact profitability.
  • The restaurant industry typically experiences high turnover rates, and finding and retaining skilled staff members may be a challenge.
  • Effective workforce management, including hiring, training, and scheduling, is crucial for maintaining a high level of service and minimizing labor-related costs.

4. Changing Consumer Preferences and Trends:

  • Consumer preferences and dining trends can shift rapidly, and franchisees need to keep up with these changes to remain relevant and appealing to their target market.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings franchisees should be adaptable and willing to evolve their menu offerings, incorporate new technologies, and update marketing strategies to meet changing consumer demands.

5. Operational Complexity:

  • Running a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise involves managing a complex set of operations, including food preparation, handling, and safety standards.
  • Franchisees must ensure compliance with strict guidelines and regulations to maintain the brand's reputation and prevent any potential health and safety issues.
  • Proper training and oversight are essential to maintaining consistency and quality across all franchise locations.

Owning a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise offers the opportunity to be part of a well-established brand with a loyal customer base. However, potential franchisees should carefully evaluate these risks and challenges before making a decision. A thorough understanding of the restaurant industry, local market dynamics, and a solid business plan will contribute to the success of a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise.

Success Stories of Buffalo Wild Wings Franchisees

Buffalo Wild Wings has been a popular choice for franchisees looking to capitalize on the success of the brand. Many individuals have found great success as franchise owners, thanks to the well-established business model and strong support system that the company provides. Here are a few examples of some notable success stories of Buffalo Wild Wings franchisees:

  1. Brad Jakeman: Jakeman, a former top executive at PepsiCo, made headlines in 2016 when he left the corporate world to become a Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee. His decision to invest in the franchise was based on the brand's reputation and its proven track record in the casual dining industry. Today, Jakeman owns several successful Buffalo Wild Wings locations and continues to expand his business portfolio.

  2. Mike Halligan: Halligan was a general manager at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant before deciding to become a franchisee. With his firsthand experience in running a successful location, he was able to seamlessly transition into franchise ownership. Halligan's dedication to exceptional customer service and his strong work ethic have enabled him to achieve significant growth and profitability in his franchise.

  3. Jennifer Campbell: Campbell, a former pharmaceutical sales representative, decided to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams by opening a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise. With the guidance and support of the franchise system, she successfully launched her first location in a thriving neighborhood. Campbell leveraged the brand's proven marketing strategies and menu offerings to attract a loyal customer base and ensure the success of her franchise.

These success stories are just a few examples of how Buffalo Wild Wings has provided opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds to thrive as franchise owners. The brand's comprehensive training programs, ongoing operational support, and strong marketing initiatives have been instrumental in helping franchisees achieve their business goals.

Moreover, Buffalo Wild Wings has consistently demonstrated its commitment to franchisee success by continuously enhancing its menu, embracing technological advancements, and adapting to changing consumer preferences. This proactiveness has played a significant role in driving customer satisfaction and attracting new patrons to franchise locations.

In summary, Buffalo Wild Wings offers a proven business model and extensive support to its franchisees, paving the way for them to achieve remarkable success. These success stories highlight the potential for individuals with the drive and ambition to join the Buffalo Wild Wings franchise system and build a profitable business.


In conclusion, Buffalo Wild Wings is a widely recognized and successful restaurant chain that offers a unique dining experience centered around its famous wings and diverse selection of sauces. Here's a summary of what has been discussed throughout this article:

  1. Buffalo Wild Wings is a franchise. The company operates on a franchise business model, allowing entrepreneurs to invest in and operate their own Buffalo Wild Wings locations. This has contributed to its extensive presence across the United States and beyond.

  2. Franchise requirements vary. While Buffalo Wild Wings provides the branding, menu, and operational support, potential franchisees must meet certain criteria before being considered. This includes sufficient financial resources and the ability to execute the brand's operational standards.

  3. Buffalo Wild Wings offers ongoing support. Franchisees benefit from continuous support and training programs provided by the company to ensure consistent quality across all locations. This support extends to marketing strategies, operational guidance, and regular communication channels.

  4. Buffalo Wild Wings has strong brand recognition. With its distinctive sports bar atmosphere, wide range of beer options, and signature menu items, Buffalo Wild Wings has established a strong brand presence. This, in turn, attracts customers and creates a loyal fan base.

  5. Buffalo Wild Wings has a competitive market position. Despite facing competition in the casual dining industry, Buffalo Wild Wings has managed to differentiate itself with its focus on sports, interactive experiences, and its unique selection of sauces. This has helped the brand maintain a competitive edge.

  6. Buffalo Wild Wings emphasizes community involvement. The company actively participates in local communities through sponsorships and partnerships with sports teams and events. This not only strengthens customer loyalty but also enhances brand visibility and reputation.

  7. Buffalo Wild Wings is committed to food safety and quality. With a strong emphasis on providing safe and high-quality food, Buffalo Wild Wings adheres to stringent food safety protocols and consistently invests in supplier partnerships. This commitment ensures that customers can enjoy their dining experience with confidence.

In summary, Buffalo Wild Wings combines its franchise model, strong brand recognition, competitive market position, community involvement, and commitment to food safety to deliver an enjoyable and memorable dining experience for customers across the globe.

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