Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Why Is Buffalo Wild Wings Dying?

I remember the first time I went to Buffalo Wild Wings. It was in Maryland, and it was with the guy I was dating at the time. He was all about the chain, talking up their spicy Caribbean Jerk wings like they were sent from heaven. Though I wasn’t much of a sports aficionado, I genuinely enjoyed the food there. 

Buffalo Wild Wings - Minneapolis
Gabriel Vanslette / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

Yessiree, back in the early 2000s, BWW looked like it was poised to become one of the biggest franchises in America. Though the chain is still alive, it’s become clear that people are just not digging the wings as much as they once did. Stores are empty, and not just because of COVID-19. 

Buffalo Wild Wings in Carson

So what’s going on? Here’s the scoop, as far as what I can see…

Buffalo Wild Wings

  1. Buffalo Wild Wings has a price point problem. The price of meat went up since 2000, big time. In the past, Buffalo Wild Wings had the advantage of having cheap wings and cheap drinks. They were good, too! The problem is that wing prices increased to the point that ordering from them now is a much pricier endeavor. This drove away people who were looking for a casual hangout.
  2. The trend of sports bars has started to fade out. Will there always be sports bars? Absolutely. Will they always be as plentiful as they once were? Not likely, considering that overall interest in sports has waned. Less interest in sports means less interest in sports bars. 
  3. People are starting to want diet-friendly options, and Buffalo Wild Wings isn’t it. A single chicken wing from their kitchen can clock in as much as 100 calories. If you add ranch, it’s going to get worse. Their sandwiches aren’t much better, either. Since it’s not exactly diet-friendly, a lot of women don’t want to bother with it either. 
  4. There’s also a lack of gastropub fare. Now that there’s a stong focus on being a foodie, having regular bar fare doesn’t jive well with audiences. People want to see exotic ingredients and unique takes on food. Though this might not be the same demographic that BWW targets, the truth is that ignoring it still hurts them. 
  5. It’s just not Millennial-friendly. Bad as it sounds, it’s true. Millennials can’t afford the high prices for regular chicken wings. Most Millennials also are fairly health-conscious, which doesn’t work with the B-Dubs way. To make matters worse, we’re also the generation most likely to try vegetarianism…and it’s a friggin’ chicken joint. 
Buffalo Wild Wings Kent interior
By JonRidinger – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28809525

There’s some good news when it comes to the Buffalo Wild Wing saga, though. There are currently a bunch of efforts within the company to revitalize the franchise—which means that you won’t be seeing this company go under. Who’s behind it? The same group that turned Arby’s around from the brink of death. 

Now, I can’t tell you whether or not the efforts will work. However, I kind of hope they do. While I wish I could get cheaper wings or get some more waistline-friendly offerings, the fact is that BWW doesn’t deserve the hate it often gets.  

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Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart is a food critic, writer, and at home culinary enthusiast!


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