Workers Reveal What It's Really Like To Work At Buffalo Wild Wings

Whether it's boneless wings or bone-in, people seriously love their chicken wings (around 1.38 billion are eaten just during the Super Bowl). Buffalo Wild Wings has made that appetite for wings its business model since 1982, and there are over 1,200 of the restaurants scattered throughout the United States from coast to coast today. While fans might flock to the restaurant to chow down on their favorite hot wings or toss back a few beers during the game, what's Buffalo Wild Wings like for the employees who tirelessly work to serve those famous wings?

Not surprisingly, it can be a pretty messy job with all that wing sauce flying around, but it also happens to be one that a lot of current and former employees report enjoying. This isn't to say that every aspect of working at Buffalo Wild Wings is perfect, but employees do report that the money is decent and the job itself can be fun. Whether you're looking for a job or you're just curious about the working lives of the folks who serve those wings, this is what it's like to work at Buffalo Wild Wings — straight from the employees themselves.

The pay at Buffalo Wild Wings can be pretty good

Like so many restaurants, when it comes to serving jobs at Buffalo Wild Wings, it's all about the tips. How well a server does with tips can depend on a number of factors, but working at a restaurant where patrons often spend three hours or more watching sports certainly helps. Multiple orders of food and drinks are pretty common, and employees at Buffalo Wild Wings report that overall, the money can be really good. "The cash is great!" Jen Benson, who worked at the restaurant for three years, told Quora. "Tickets are pretty high since the food can be a little pricey, so the tips generally reflect that."

Former employee Deshaun Williams said that sports are a huge part of the working environment and added that he made "pretty good money" and got to know many of the regular customers. As for how much a server can expect to make, that can obviously vary wildly depending on location, time of shift, and rapport with customers. However, one former employee said it wasn't uncommon to make $300 working a seven-hour shift.

Of course, not every job at Buffalo Wild Wings is based on tips. Indeed reports that as of August 2020, cooks made an average of $11.84 per hour, while managers made an annual salary anywhere from around $49,000 to $67,000.

You'll probably work with some fun people at Buffalo Wild Wings

Money may be a huge factor when it comes to why a person takes a job, but coworkers play a significant role in job satisfaction. Nobody wants to work at a restaurant — or any business — where they're surrounded by miserable jerks. Thankfully, if you take a job a Buffalo Wild Wings, there's a good chance you'll work with some fun folks and may even make a few long-lasting friendships.

Longtime Buffalo Wild Wings employee Rebecca Lee told Quora that she thought of her coworkers and managers "like family" and that it was unlike any other job she'd had. "I left Buffalo Wild Wings for a year to work in another restaurant, and while I did enjoy working with certain individuals, I missed my Bdubs family," Lee said. Another employee on Reddit who worked at the restaurant as a manager said they had made "some lifelong friendships" in the six years they'd worked at Buffalo Wild Wings.

The level to which employees enjoy the job and how well they get along with their coworkers is going to vary depending on the location. One former employee said "never again" and blamed the high turnover of employees on "ignorant" managers who poorly managed their staff. If you're thinking about applying for a job at your local Buffalo Wild Wings, perhaps scout it out first and pay attention to how well the staff gets along with one another.

The food at Buffalo Wild Wings may not be as fresh as you think

Buffalo Wild Wings has never boasted that it's a farm-to-table restaurant where everything but the salt is made in-house. Still, it's not unreasonable for customers to expect that at least a majority of the restaurant's food is actually made in the kitchen. Well, as employees of Buffalo Wild Wings quickly learn, that's not the case. Truth be told, there's very little cooking that goes on in the kitchen — other than dropping things in a deep-fryer. If you can operate a microwave, you may just have what it takes to cook at Buffalo Wild Wings.

When asked about what's actually made in the restaurant's kitchen, a manager on Reddit said: "Very little actually. We microwave diced chicken which goes into the grilled wraps and buffalitos." The manager went on to confess that the spinach artichoke dip and cheese you'll find on potato wedges are also microwaved.

While restaurants like Five Guys may brag about their never-frozen beef, don't expect to find it at Buffalo Wild Wings — burgers and boneless wings apparently arrive prepackaged and frozen. On the bright side, a cook did tell Reddit that the bone-in wings are not frozen and are actually "very fresh" — so that's a relief. The downside is depending on how busy the restaurant is, food could be sitting under a heat lamp for 25 mins before making it to the customer's table.

Some aspects of the food prep at Buffalo Wild Wings might be a little gross

Considering that other than slicing up some produce, there's not too much prep work happening in the Buffalo Wild Wings kitchen, it should be pretty boring, right? Well, yes, but some aspects of the prep process might still be a bit gross to employees who are new to the Buffalo Wild Wings kitchen. At the very least, it very well could make a person reconsider what they order off the menu. Because a lot of the food is already frozen, it needs to thaw before being cooked. Back when Buffalo Wild Wings served ribs, those ribs had to sit and thaw "in a gelatinous casing that you have to [break] apart and portion," confessed a former cook. Another cook said they hated that part of the process and nearly vomited the first time they had to prep the ribs.

You'll no longer find ribs on the Buffalo Wild Wings menu, but even still, employees will have the curtain pulled back on those famous wings in a way they may not be ready for. That same cook said that while they never found any severed chicken heads mixed in with the wings (thank goodness!) they did find the occasional wing with feathers still on it. Thankfully, those wings never made their way to the deep-fryer and were tossed in the garbage.

You may witness the aftermath of a Blazin' Challenge gone wrong at Buffalo Wild Wings

For wing fans looking to live on the edge, the restaurant has created the Blazin' Challenge: a culinary battle of will that challenges guests to eat 12 of the hottest wings in just six minutes (via Business Insider). The wings are coated in Blazin' sauce, which measures in at a tongue-melting 350,000 Scoville units — 60 times hotter than a jalepeño.

NFL star Rob Gronkowski did the challenge in June 2020 and described his experience as being pretty brutal. "My face is on fire, my head is on fire. My eyes are on fire, too, " Gronkowski said at the time. Buffalo Wild Wings employees know all too well the repercussions that can come with the Blazin' Challenge and have seen customers pay the price.

One employee on Reddit described the aftermath of a customer who threw in the towel before rushing to the bathroom, and as you might expect, the results weren't pretty. "He was in there for a while," the employee said, before adding, "A little later a guest came to me and said someone sh** all over the wall in the men's room! I believe the guy that attempted the Blazin Challenge tried to make it to the toilet and ended up sh***ing a little too soon." Another employee said that they'd witnessed "a 230-pound bodybuilder cry because they [the wings] were too hot."

Some customers are really picky about their wing orders at Buffalo Wild Wings

Whether it's ordering a burger with customized toppings at Five Guys or a perfectly cooked filet mignon at a steak house, diners can be pretty picky with their food. After all, if a customer is spending their hard-earned money on a meal, it should come out to their liking, right? Employees at Buffalo Wild Wings can attest that the restaurant's customers like their wings a variety of ways and aren't afraid to specify just how their wing order should be prepared.

"Yes, we HATE people who are incredibly picky with wings," one cook confessed to Reddit. According to the cook, it's not uncommon for customers to complain that their wings are either not crispy enough or don't have enough sauce on them. Either way, the cook said that it can be "frustrating" because when too much sauce is added, those once-crispy wings tend to get soggy.

Another Buffalo Wild Wings worker said their restaurant often gets orders for plain wings with "waves and waves of different sauces on the side." This sort of order can be annoying and tedious for the kitchen staff. Regardless of whether those grievances are justified, picky wing orders just come with the territory for the Buffalo Wild Wings kitchen staff.   

You'll get to sample the food at Buffalo Wild Wings

Aside from a regular paycheck and sneaking a peek at whatever game is playing on the TVs, there have to be some perks to working at Buffalo Wild Wings, right? Well, if you're a fan of wings, then you'll surely appreciate that employees get to sample the menu. According to what Buffalo Wild Wings employee Stephanie Mccoy-Carter told Quora, the company wants its servers to be familiar with the food offerings in case customers have a question. "They're going to make you try the hottest sauce they have so that you can explain it better to customers," Mccoy-Carter said.

While employees do get a discount on food, this doesn't mean that they can snack on wings and fries at their leisure. "They usually don't let you eat anything while on the clock (which is ridiculous if you ask me)," former server Deshaun Williams said. However ridiculous that might seem to Williams, he did point out that on the plus side, employees may get to try all of the different draft beers while in training.

As for meal discounts, employees on Indeed report some variation from store to store. While some employee reviews give the impression of a free meal with every shift, others said it was a 50 percent discount during shifts and 25 percent discount when not working. Some reviews also said that free meals were only for management or employees who had won a contest. 

You'll pay for extra uniforms when you work at Buffalo Wild Wings

Working in a restaurant is messy. Even if you're not in the kitchen slicing, dicing, and cooking over a stove — or in Buffalo Wild Wings Case, popping stuff in the microwave — you'll get dirty. There are constantly going to be spills and messes to clean up, and with wing sauce involved, it's a 100 percent guarantee an employee's uniform is going to get pretty dirty. As new employees at Buffalo Wild Wings quickly find out, they'll need to either account for washing that uniform every day or buying extras.

"The first jersey or shirt they give you is 'complimentary,'" a Buffalo Wild Wings cook told Reddit. "After that, you pay six dollars for a cook shirt and nine dollars for the server's jersey. They just take it out of your check." While the cook said the quality of the uniforms wasn't bad, they added that they ultimately bought eight of them, simply because of how dirty each one got on during shift. "I work six days a week, so I do not want to have to do that much laundry," they said.

Landing a job at Buffalo Wild Wings isn't too difficult

Aspiring Buffalo Wild Wing employees will be happy to know that snagging a job at the restaurant isn't ridiculously difficult. You could certainly walk into your local Buffalo Wild Wings and apply in-person, but Buffalo Wild Wings's parent company, Inspire Brands, makes it even easier and allows job seekers to scroll through open positions and apply via their website.

Indeed offers a fair amount of insight into what the interview process is like at Buffalo Wild Wings, and the wait time for getting a response after applying can vary from a few hours to a couple of days. More than one employee said they were interviewed over the course of several days. Meanwhile, some employees said their interview lasted only around five minutes.

It's worth acknowledging that depending on the position a person applies for, some interviews are going to be more detailed than others. Obviously, Buffalo Wild Wings is going to have a few more questions when hiring a general manager versus hiring a dishwasher. Most employees on Indeed said that after their interview process, they were called within about a week and offered the job.

There's room for advancement at Buffalo Wild Wings

Not only do potential employees not have to jump through endless hoops to land a job with Buffalo Wild Wings, but once they do get hired, there's room to move up if they work hard. One Buffalo Wild Wings manager told Reddit that they started out with the restaurant as a cook and were offered the management promotion three times before finally accepting.

Former Buffalo Wild Wings employee Jen Benson was with the company for three years and said that in addition to the flexible schedule and money, the ability to advance was a plus. "If you stay and work hard, you'll move up," Benson told Quora before explaining that servers often move from bartender to shift leader and eventually manager.

Overall, Buffalo Wild Wings has a 3.1 out of five on Indeed when it comes to job security and advancement, and numerous reviews tout the company's reputation for promoting its workers. "The company truly cares about your career and where you want to go," an Indiana employee said.

Be ready for a workout while working at Buffalo Wild Wings

It should really go without saying that if you want a job that's chill and low-stress, Buffalo Wild Wings isn't for you. Anybody who has ever walked into the place on a Sunday afternoon during football season knows that the restaurant is full of energy, with servers constantly dodging one another and guests as they rush orders out of the kitchen. Just like any busy restaurant that caters to sports fans, working at Buffalo Wild Wings can be especially tiring.

Numerous reviews on Indeed said that working at the restaurant was "hectic," "busy," and "fast-paced." Some employees seemed to enjoy this, while others said it was simply too stressful for their liking. Todd Johnson said on Quora that new employees should be "ready to put your body through a challenge." That sort of busy and bustling environment might not be everyone's cup of tea, but in a job where tips often make up the bulk of an employee's earnings, a busy shift is always going to be better than a slow one.