What Really Makes Buffalo Wild Wings So Successful

Buffalo Wild Wings has been known for dishing up wet and wild wings and ice-cold beers to hungry fans seemingly for ages. From the restaurant's packed-out dining rooms to its seemingly endless menu, it's no wonder why people get all worked up when it comes to making a visit to this joint after a hard week's end.

Is it really the wings that makes Buffalo Wild Wings, otherwise known as "B-Dubs," so successful? Maybe. One thing we know for sure is that there are multiple aspects to this well-known chain that we believe keep guests coming back. We'll detail the various elements of the Buffalo Wild Wings franchise and why it seems to continually captivate customers year after year. From the story of its roots all the way to what it has become today, we're ready to analyze exactly what may make Buffalo Wild Wings so distinct from its competitors.

Let's wing our way into the Buffalo Wild Wings experience, where we'll explore everything from finger-lickin' chicken to the ultimate customer experience and more!

It all started by bringing NY Buffalo-style wings to the Buckeye state ...

How does a hankering for wings end up turning into a billion dollar business? Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery can tell you. These two fellows grew up together in Cincinnati, but it was Disbrow who relocated to New York where his taste buds were first graced with the epic flavor of true NY-style buffalo wings. Upon returning to Ohio for a figure skating event, Disbrow and Lowery met up and had an unsatiable urge for wings ( ... we can relate) yet could find no restaurant in the vicinity to satiate the craving. 

Thus, Buffalo Wild Wings was born. Set in the heart of Columbus on High Street, just minutes from the Ohio State University itself, Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery sought to offer the Buckeye State exactly what it was missing. Often affectionately referred to as "BW3's" by the locals, the restaurant was originally called "Buffalo Wild Wings & Weck" before adopting the shortened "Buffalo Wild Wings" or "B-Dubs" as we know it today. Nestled in the midst of a bustling college town, the owners certainly knew how to pick the right clientele. Though the early phases of the restaurant played music videos instead of sports once upon a time, the restaurant has now evolved into a highly successful sports bar that continues to serve as one of the most popular wing joints in the nation.

It's loaded with entertainment

If entertainment is what you seek, you'll find all of that and more at Buffalo Wild Wings. With the influx of at-home conveniences such as Netflix, Smart TVs, and other advancements, restaurants have found that using their access to cable to broadcast sporting events has become increasingly popular. People can now watch their favorite high-profile sports while satiating their appetites with the foods we all have come to associate with sports anyway: wings, appetizers, and beer. According to Buffalo Wild Wings, expect to see UFC sports, boxing, and LCS (?) played on your local B-Dubs screens. Popular sports like basketball and football are also featured, depending on the season and what major games are aired.

Of course, even those who don't love sports can find plenty of ways to stay entertained during their visit to Buffalo Wild Wings. Some restaurant locations feature tablets available to serve as playtime for trivia games, poker, and more, aimed to both the sports fan and the one simply looking for a good time. Just know that though this well-known casual joint is indeed fun, it isn't the place to be if you're looking to kick back and relax in the quiet. Expect lots of rowdy hooping, hollering, and, possibly, screaming kids. After all, what else would you expect coming from a restaurant this entertaining?

There's plenty to drink

Looking for a great drink? B-Dubs has you covered. Not only does Buffalo Wild Wings dole out amazing casual grub, but it also features incredible drinks to pair it with. No matter when you go, Buffalo Wild Wings has committed to serving its patrons tall house beers at only $4 a pop. Not into the house brew? Try visiting from 3-6 p.m. for $3 to $6 deals to get your next sip at a reduced cost.

In addition to great beer, Buffalo Wild Wings also delivers in terms of the types of cocktails it offers. Drinks are subject to change and may vary based on location, but if you can, try to get a load of the Primo Margarita, Apple Martini, Strawberry-Corona Kick, or a variety of other specialty drinks sure to pair deliciously with a large order of wings tossed in your favorite sauce.

Feeling a little fancy, are you? In that case, you'll be glad to know that B-Dubs also serves wine. Mark West Pinot Noir and Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon usually grace the menu, but be sure to check with your nearby location to confirm which drinks are actually available before planning your next visit.

There's a wing sauce for everyone

Oh, yeah! Now it's time for the fun part. If you know anything about B-Dubs, you know that though the wings themselves are delicious, they're best enjoyed when slathered in an intensely flavorsome sauce (or even a dry rub, if you'd prefer it).

At Buffalo Wild Wings, you can enjoy up to 26 sauces and seasonings with which to grace your wings, and let us tell you, this restaurant's sauces deliver. There are a few sauces on the menu that, thankfully, seem like they'll stick around forever, with mild, medium, hot, Parmesan garlic, and honey BBQ being a few. However, if you're looking to sample something with a little more swagger, you'll definitely want to check out newer options, which this joint tends to introduce on a fairly regular basis.

At the time of this publication, B-Dubs is offering devoted fans their chance to sample Kentucky-inspired Bulleit Bourbon and Blazin' Knockout as new sauces to douse your wings in. Other curious sauce menu options include Thai Curry, Mango Habanero, and Jammin' Jalapeño. Oh, and in case you're looking for dry rubs, know that Chipotle BBQ, Lemon Pepper, and Desert Heat are amongst many dry seasoning options for you to choose from. Do Wing Stop and similar restaurants dish up this many sauce offerings? Not likely.

It has more than just wings

Up until this point, we've talked incessantly about all the food fare Buffalo Wild Wings is best known for, and indeed, the wings, beer, and entertainment are all, without a shadow of a doubt, some of the major reasons Buffalo Wild Wings has remained so popular even to this day.

What may surprise you, however, is the fact that Buffalo Wild Wings also contributes much more than wings alone. The restaurant seems to always cook up something new and delicious, and in fact, unlike many of its competitors, some of the very best items on the menu don't actually have anything to do with chicken.

We love this restaurant's burgers, as well as its flavorful nacho and Hatch Queso appetizer. In addition, get a load of the mozzarella sticks, fried pickles, potato wedges, "Bird Dawgs," tacos, salads, and so much more. We've even seen some locations doling out decadent cheesecakes and chocolate fudge desserts to customers who still have room for them. Of course, all appetizers, entrées, cakes, and other tempting edibles are subject to change, but because of Buffalo Wild Wings' willingness to deviate from the norm, the restaurant can easily attract more than the avid wing-goer simply because its menu features so many delicious options to choose from.

The atmosphere is super casual

We touched on this a little when we mentioned the entertainment that Buffalo Wild Wings makes available to patrons, but here we want to highlight the uber-casual atmosphere of the establishment as another potential reason people tend to flock to Buffalo Wild Wings on a regular basis. While there's a time and place to visit expensive, fancy restaurants, it isn't always on the agenda when all you want is a good drink, good food, and a place where you, your family, and your friends can laugh, howl, screech, and scream for your favorite teams, all in the name of having a good time.

Sure, some of you out there may not be into all that, and honestly, you don't have to be. With kids screaming, fans shouting, and the person behind you getting a little TOO worked up, we could see how this might become annoying, especially after a long week at the office. Whether this ultra-casual atmosphere will suit your fancy or become a major turn-off will totally depend on what you define as an enjoyable time out. Still, the younger crowd, as well as large families and sports fans, undoubtedly will love this place for its informal atmosphere, which must have contributed to Buffalo Wild Wings' overall success.

It dishes up plenty of bundle deals

At Buffalo Wild Wings, you'll be pleased to know that you can order your wings in tandem with fries and other sides for a discounted price point when compared to ordering items separately. Choose between options like boneless wings tossed in your favorite sauce with fries, traditional wings with fries, Bird Dogs with fries, traditional wings with boneless wings in a 15/15 portion size, and more. This makes it so that you can easily select a pairing that best suits your taste buds without having to exert too much effort drumming up your next big meal.

Love veggies like celery and carrots with ranch or bleu cheese dip to pair with your wings? Buffalo Wild Wings has bases covered there, too. In most cases, your veggies and dip come included in the value bundle, so rest assured you'll get to enjoy every aspect of wing-eating even when ordering it up value style.

The chain runs plenty of specials

As if the value deals aren't enough to contribute to B-Dubs and its success, did you know that Buffalo Wild Wings also offers discounts on certain days of the week? That being said, we've seen this change over the years, and you'll definitely want to check with your nearby Buffalo Wild Wings to ensure the promos apply at your chosen location. We've already enlightened you about the $3 to $6 happy hour drinks featured daily, but you can also snag an order of traditional wings on Tuesday and get a duplicate order at 50% off.

Prefer boneless wings? Expect to get the same deal on Thursdays of every week, boneless style. It may be during the week, but what better way to treat yourself than to get half off a second order of wings? This paired with the restaurant's already discounted value meals and cheaply priced drinks and appetizers makes Buffalo Wild Wings a step ahead in terms of affordability while simultaneously making customers happy.

It offers convenient options for ordering

Admit it. In this day and age, we're all looking for options. Whether it's online grocery shopping or curbside takeout, we've all grown accustomed to enjoying convenient alternatives for nearly everything, even if it admittedly isn't always necessary.

Buffalo Wild Wings gets this concept and that could be yet another one of those factors that has made the establishment so popular. This famous wing chain offers its guests many options for ordering including delivery and contactless pickup at some locations. When most sports enthusiasts order at Buffalo Wild Wings, they prefer to dine in, seizing the opportunity to catch the live action while indulging in delicious fan-food fare, but there are some of us who'd rather order and run. If that describes you, know that Buffalo Wild Wings has plenty of options.

Order online and pickup in-store, or call in for someone to bring your meal out to your car. Hey, in a world of technology, convenience has grown increasingly popular.

It has Guest Experience Captains

Did you know that Buffalo Wild Wings has a job position within its company that controls all the television sets? It's true. Though changing channels may sound like an easy enough job to do, those who have filled the role attest that it can be tough to manage, especially when there are multiple important viewings happening all on the same weekend (or even the same day).

So, what is this position exactly? It's often referred to as the Guest Experience Captain (or sometimes "guest captain" for short). According to descriptions we've seen online for this role, this fun but important job ensures that patrons get a chance to view the most important game day events right from the comfort of their own seats, without ever needing to lift a finger (or a remote).

In addition to controlling channels, the guest captain is also responsible for building brand awareness in the community and ensuring that every guest gets to experience their own uniquely positive experience. Needless to say, Buffalo Wild Wings has really covered its bases by inventing a single job responsible for manning televisions and ensuring that guests remain all smiles. Sounds like tough work, but B-Dubs is all about guest entertainment and thrills.

It sports a modernized look and feel

In addition to convenient ordering, Buffalo Wild Wings has made it its business to ensure that its restaurants stay modern and relevant. Developments in some locations include jumbotron television sets, dugout-style waiting areas, 80-inch TV screens, and more. Some restaurants feature the bar as a focal point, although this isn't the case everywhere. Still, you'll notice that almost all Buffalo Wild Wings locations sport a youthful and exciting bright yellow color scheme, with that oh-so-recognizable silhouette of a buffalo beckoning you to come and enjoy.

All in all, unlike some wing restaurants that may feature a dim and serene atmosphere, expect Buffalo Wild Wings to bring fast-paced invigorating and modernized excitement. Oh, and before we forget, there are some locations that offer tableside payment systems, allowing you to pay independently, rather than having to do things the old-school way. This limits the amount of time you have to spend waiting on your server and allows you to take matters into your own hands when it comes time to pay. It's modernized updates like these that may be contributing Buffalo Wild WIngs dedicated fanbase. As times change and technology increases, more patrons come to expect conveniences that match the times they're living in. Buffalo Wild Wings seems to be honing in on this fact, and thus, seems to be making an attempt to offer loyal customers exactly what they're craving. 

There are locations in all 50 states ( ... including Hawaii)

It all started in Ohio, but oh, how it has expanded. Since its original opening, the franchise has since been declared one of the fastest-growing restaurants in the industry, grossing over $500,000 in sales per location annually for a total of over $3 million in sales as of 2023. Compare that to Wing Stop's $1 million dollars in annual sales and it isn't hard to see the vast difference between B-Dubs and its competitors. 

These days, you can find Buffalo Wild Wings in all 50 states and can even enjoy dining at a few locations in Hawaii. Having a laundry list of locations certainly helps Buffalo Wild Wings contend with other lesser-known wing restaurants, especially since the brand is so popular and widespread. And because most people know the name and are lucky enough to have one nearby, it only makes sense that Buffalo Wild Wings has expanded beyond its competitors.

So, which state boasts of the most Buffalo Wild Wing locations? If you're thinking it's the original Buffalo Wild Wings home state, Ohio, you're close. Actually, as of the time of publication, Ohio has a whopping 94 locations statewide, but that doesn't hold a candle to the 118 locations that can be found in Texas. Illinois, and California also boast of having close to 100 locations in each state, making a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant conveniently accessible nearly everywhere you turn.

It appeals to the masses

Though it all started in Ohio, the company has shown itself to appeal to the masses with 36 New York locations and one location situated near Buffalo, NY itself, as of the time of publication. Still, people in Buffalo are privy to many other homegrown restaurants that would potentially rival that of this popular restaurant, but all in all, Buffalo Wild Wing's success across the nation seems to affirm that it does indeed appeal to a wide variety of people groups. 

Offering true buffalo-style wings seems to be what's drawing the crowd, especially given that most people associate sports with a good beer and wings. So, what makes a Buffalo-styled wing an authentic one? Authentic buffalo wings are usually dished up as separated flats and drumette portions and are coated in a hot and tangy sauce that combines melted butter with hot sauce. Once exclusive to New York, since then the cat has been out of the bag, allowing everyone across the nation to sample this all-American now ridiculously popular flavor combo that can be enjoyed in hot, mild, and medium varieties. All in all, Buffalo Wild Wings has branched out and made its mark across American food culture, despite its humble regional beginnings.