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09/30/2021

Buffalo Wings & Rings Exports Off-Prem Prototype to Mexico

The first of three co-owned Mexico locations will open in October.
Anna Wolfe
Senior Editor - Restaurants
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Buffalo Wings and Rings in Milford Ohio with valet pickup
Buffalo Wings and Rings in Milford, Ohio, features a valet pickup lane.

Buffalo Wings & Rings will open its first location in Mexico next month. 

The first location will open in Reynosa, in the state of Tamaulipas. The casual restaurant plans to open three co-owned locations in three Mexican states over the next 18 months. 

Buffalo Wings & Rings Director of Franchising Dan Doulen said the expansion south of the border made sense for the Cincinnati-based brand, as it already has 12 locations in nearby South Texas. 

“We want to make sure that we go into Mexico the way it needs to be. Doing it right (from the beginning) will help us to continue to grow in Mexico,” Doulen said.

Buffalo Wings & Rings will open locations that include valet pickup and a self-service beer lounge, hallmarks of its new prototype that debuted in the Cincinnati suburb of Milford, Ohio, in fall 2020.

The Mexico locations will have printed menus in Spanish. There won’t be printed English menus, but the menus will be available online, on the app, and via QR code.

[P.F. Chang's Transcends Language Barriers with QR Codes]

Buffalo Wings & Rings embraced QR codes last summer; the QR codes pointed to location-specific menus instead of offering printed menus.

Doulen is quick to credit the prototype’s valet pickup, a drive-thru where guests can pick up their digital and phone orders, for its positive impact to the sports bar and casual restaurant’s bottom line.

The Greatest Hit

Buffalo Wings & Rings was designing a prototype to accommodate off-premises orders before COVID-19.  “Off premises is a major part of our business,” he said. “Valet pickup, that was really a hit.   

“It continues to be a big win for us. It is working very efficiently,” Doulen added. The valet pickup, he said, is “not tech-driven but is data-driven.”

Buffalo Wings & Rings offers delivery through its app through third parties and select, mostly rural locations offer in-house delivery. Between the two options, 95% of our locations offer some type of delivery, with many stores offering multiple options, a Buffalo Wings & Rings spokesperson confirmed. The vast majority of delivery orders are directly integrated with Buffalo Wings & Rings' online ordering system, so there is no manual menu updating or order entry required at the store level for delivery orders.

[75% of customers prefer to order delivery direct through the restaurant, according to HT's 2021 Customer Engagement Technology Study.]

Before designing the Milford prototype, the team did its homework.  “We analyzed service; how many people are sitting at tables. Do we have too many tables? Instead of looking at seating, we looked at the size of parties.” The result was a different restaurant design, about 1000 square feet smaller.

“You think you got to have 6 or 8 tops. That wasn’t really the case,” Doulen said. “We learned we can have more 2 tops, more 4 tops.”

Contactless transactions are here to stay, and Buffalo Wings & Rings plans to continue leaning in on technology. One of the recent additions: touchless sliding doors to the kitchen.

“We plan to take advantage of and focus on tech throughout the restaurant,” he said.  “With the new prototype, we didn’t want to lose the feel and purpose of the restaurant: a sports dining experience,” Doulen explained. “Some brands are creating a small mall express model. We are taking what we had and optimizing the space so that we are operating more efficiently in a smaller space.”