Emerging Brands

Buffalo Wild Wings has big plans for small-scale spinoff BWW Go

The full-service chicken wing chain this week opened its 100th Go location and has franchisee commitments to open nearly 600 more of the takeout-focused restaurants.
BWW Go exterior
BWW Go's smaller footprint gives it more real-estate options. | Photo by Joe Guszkowski

Buffalo Wild Wings has big plans for BWW Go.

Since making its debut in 2020, the full-service chicken wing chain’s takeout and delivery spinoff has quietly expanded to 100 locations with plans to hit 150 this year. Go is also available as a to-go option for Buffalo Wild Wings’ more than 1,300 traditional stores as parent company Inspire Brands ramps up plans to grow the concept.

Created in response to demand for off-premise options during the pandemic, Go offers chicken wings and tenders with a full complement of 26 sauces, as well as burgers, wraps, fried sides and desserts. 

Its restaurants are much smaller than its counterpart's sprawling sports bars, which speeds up development times and allows Go to get closer to at-home customers. Locations average about 1,500 square feet, according to franchise disclosure documents, and many are in in-line sites in suburban shopping centers.

Though Go offers counter service and limited seating, 65% of its sales are digital, and it is heavily geared toward the takeout crowd.

“We’ve taken all the innovation and flavor that keeps Buffalo Wild Wings the largest sports bar brand in America and packed it into a convenient way for our guests to get their favorites on the go,” said John Bowie, brand president of Buffalo Wild Wings, in a statement.

Buffalo Wild Wings Go

Customers can order in-person at BWW Go, but its stores are built for takeout. | Photo by Joe Guszkowski

The smaller format has been a hit with franchisees, who have committed to opening nearly 600 more Go units. Eighty-five percent of those deals are with existing operators of parent company Inspire Brands, which also owns Arby’s, Jimmy John’s and Sonic Drive-In.

New Jersey-based Munson Restaurant Group is one of them. The operator of Buffalo Wild Wings, BWW Go and Sonic restaurants opened the 100th Go location this week in New York City. It’s the operator's fourth Go unit.

“Operational efficiencies, streamlined marketing resources, and tremendous brand awareness are just some of the factors that make BWW Go appealing,” said Munson President Jack Litman in a statement. “Add to that the flexibility of the footprint and the speed to market, and you have a very desirable concept.”

BWW Go is not the first scaled-down offshoot of a full-service chain, but it may be the largest. Others, such as P.F. Chang's To-Go, Flip'd by IHOP and Aussie Grill by Outback, emerged around the same time and with the same general idea, but they have not grown nearly as fast.

As Go expands, Inspire is beginning to carve out an identity for the brand that is distinct from its full-service relative. It recently gave Go a visual makeover and a dedicated online ordering site as well as exclusive menu items such as Golden Fire sauce. Go even got a TV spot during the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament that looked to lure viewers with a buy one, get one free wing deal.

But the brand faces some tough competition in the red-hot chicken wing category. Market leader Wingstop grew total sales by almost 17% in 2023, according to Technomic data, while the nearly 3,000-unit Popeyes has also been pushing into wings with great success.

Those chains could be stealing share from Buffalo Wild Wings, which saw sales rise just 0.5% last year on 1.8% unit growth, per Technomic. 

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