How Much is a Buffalo Wild Wings Franchise?

Vignesh Karunanidhi
How Much is a Buffalo Wild Wings Franchise

When longtime friends James Disbrow and Scott Lowery set out in 1981 on a quest for authentic Buffalo chicken wings but came up empty in their home state of Ohio, the seeds of an iconic restaurant chain took root. Rather than accept defeat, the duo decided to launch their own wings-focused sports bar to satisfy demand for the elusive fiery finger food.

Brief history of Buffalo Wild Wings

The first Buffalo Wild Wings opened in Columbus, Ohio, that year, serving Disbrow and Lowery’s signature take on New York-style chicken wings bathed in spicy butter sauce. Rave reviews quickly followed, and another location soon opened in Westerville, Ohio, to feed surging interest in the hearty appetizer. Growth accelerated rapidly from there.

Over the next four decades, Buffalo Wild Wings blossomed from its humble two-store origins into a global brand boasting over 1,200 locations spanning 45 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Taiwan.

The once scrappy startup now serves as a subsidiary of Inspire Brands, the fast-growing conglomerate also overseeing fast food titans Arby’s, Sonic Drive-In, and Jimmy John’s.

Franchising has fueled much of this dramatic expansion by allowing passionate entrepreneurs to leverage the popular concept. The company began franchising in 1991, and today, over half of all locations are franchisee-owned.

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Becoming a Buffalo Wild Wings Franchisee

Prospective franchisees can expect to invest $1.5–$3.5 million to launch a new restaurant, including at least $750,000 in liquid capital. The initial franchise fee ranges from $25,000 for a traditional location to $12,500 for a non-traditional spot like an airport or college campus. Franchisees sign a 20-year contract with the option to renew for an additional 10-year term.

In return, Buffalo Wild Wings furnishes training, opening assistance, ongoing support, branded marketing materials, and proprietary systems for managing point-of-sale, inventory, reporting, and operations.

Franchise owners assume responsibility for securing appropriate real estate and hiring staff to oversee day-to-day management catering to local patrons.

Its menus focus on the brand’s namesake chicken wings dressed in a variety of proprietary sauces and dry rubs across a spectrum from mild to blisteringly hot. Fan favorites like Parmesan Garlic, Mango Habanero, and Atomic Sauce drive repeat business. Franchisees can also opt to serve a variety of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and sides to satisfy varying tastes.

The Growth Story Behind an Iconic Chicken Chain

Though launching during a challenging 1981 recession, the novel Buffalo Wild Wings concept resonated by filling an unmet craving perfect for sharing among friends. Punchy taglines reinforced the brand’s sports bar identity, where fans could gather for wings, drinks, and the big game.

Distinct seasonings and cheeky ad campaigns like “Wing Tuesdays” helped set Buffalo Wild Wings apart while cultivating fierce customer loyalty over the decades. Today, tech integrations like mobile apps, online ordering, in-seat tablets, and rewards programs demonstrate the concept’s digital savvy despite its folksy, gameday energy.

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The numbers reveal a concept continuing to take flight through hands-on franchise support. With over 31 years of experience perfecting its namesake dish, Buffalo Wild Wings leverages its scale, analytics, and marketing muscle to help independent affiliates thrive.

Though competition in the sector has increased, the brand that essentially launched the sports bar+wings category continues to deliver the authentic experience countless rival chains chase but rarely equal.

For fans of great American comfort food in a high-energy environment, Buffalo Wild Wings’ success confirms commercial demand. Customers continue flocking for innovative riffs on the beloved dish first popularized by Italian-American cook Teressa Bellissimo in Buffalo, NY, circa 1964.

Key Takeaways: Why Franchise With Buffalo Wild Wings

For over three decades, Buffalo Wild Wings has shared its signature chicken wings peppered with secret spices across America and now increasingly overseas. By licensing its formulas, systems, and branding to passionate owners, the brand transforms neighborhood fans into loyal franchise partners.

With its growing global footprint, Buffalo Wild Wings figures to continue trailing hot sauce and blue cheese dressing across continents for years to come. Fans-turned-owners can seize a piece of this thriving pie slathered in butter and spices.