Naperville Business Lawyer on How a Chain Went From Bar Food to Billions

buffalo wild wings, Naperville business law attorneyThe company that owns Arby’s, Jimmy John’s, and several other fast-food and quick-service dining brands has announced that it will pay $2.9 billion to acquire the nation’s best-known chicken wing chain. The deal comes in the wake of several other restaurant industry mergers, including Burger King’s acquisition of Popeyes Chicken.

As a business law attorney, I fully understand that mergers and buyouts are simply part of the business cycle in most sectors. Many such deals prove to be extremely profitable for all involved parties, but how did Buffalo Wild Wings go from a fairly basic sports bar to a multibillion-dollar franchise on the strength of chicken wings? The chain’s rise popularity, in many ways, mirrors that of the wings themselves.

Humble Beginnings

Buffalo Wild Wings started as a sporst-bar style restaurant in Columbus, OH, run by two men from Buffalo, NY. Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery opened their first location near Ohio State University in 1982 with the intent of selling upstate-New York specialties: spicy chicken wings and beef on weck. In fact, the restaurant was originally known as Buffalo Wild Wings & Weck, which was often shortened by patrons to BW3.

While buffalo-style wings first became popular in western New York in the 1960s and 70s, the stores found success in central Ohio in the 1980s. By 1992, the chain had grown to eight stores and began offering franchise opportunities. The brand went public in 2003 with its initial public offering (IPO) raking in more than $50 million. The 300th Buffalo Wild Wings location opened in 2004, and by 2014, the chain boasted more than 1,000 stores around the world.

The original menu at Buffalo Wild Wings included just a single wing flavor. Today, diners can find 21 different sauces and a wide range of beers to go along with the wings. The chain has maintained its casual sports bar atmosphere and is a popular gathering place for sports fans who watch games on dozens of screens throughout each location. Rising wholesale prices, however, have strained the company’s bottom line in recent years, creating the opportunity for Arby’s.

A Good Match

For its part, Arby’s faced financial struggles throughout the early 2000s but has bounced back on the strength of renewed marketing and targeting a male demographic. Market analysts suggest that Arby’s and its ownership group could push Buffalo Wild Wings in the same direction.

The acquisition is expected to finalize in the first quarter of 2018. Arby’s has announced that Buffalo Wild Wings will be maintained as a privately-held subsidiary and will be run by Paul Brown, Arby’s current CEO.

Fueling Your Company’s Growth

Every major corporate success story began as one person’s idea and grew as a result of hard work and dedication. If you are looking for ways to grow your business, an experienced Naperville business lawyer can help you find them. Contact The Gierach Law Firm to discuss your options today.



USA Today

National Chicken Council