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Buffalo Wild Wings Costs $2.4M – $4.8M (+ 2024 Profits)

Buffalo Wild Wings, a renowned name in the casual dining and sports bar franchise market, was established in 1981 by James Disbrow and Scott Lowery. The duo, having moved from Buffalo, New York, to Ohio, was inspired to open their own establishment when they couldn’t find a restaurant serving authentic Buffalo-style chicken wings.

The first restaurant opened its doors in Columbus, Ohio, in 1982, signaling the birth of what would become a significant player in the food and hospitality industry. The headquarters of the company is situated in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The company began franchising in 1991, expanding its reach and offering franchisees the chance to be part of a growing brand recognized for its engaging sports-themed atmosphere.

Buffalo Wild Wings differentiates itself with a menu that features 26 signature sauces and seasonings, a variety of food options, including wings, burgers, and salads, and a vibrant setting perfect for watching sports. This has allowed it to carve out a niche in the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) sector that particularly appeals to sports fans.

a financial plan for a franchise
a financial plan for a franchise

Initial investment

Type of ExpenditureAmount
Fees related to site approval$1,200 to $53,800
Initial franchise fee$12,500 to $25,000
Reimbursement of expenses and administrative fee for on-site trainingSO to $80,000
Architecture fees (based upon utilization of national firm)$100,000 to $160,000
Construction and leasehold improvements$1,430,000 to $2,100,000
Furniture, fixtures, equipment and other fixed assets$775,000 to $925,000
Audio/Visual equipment$275,000 to $425,000
Computer POS system/kitchen display unit$28,245 to $50,520
Office equipment and supplies$6,000 to $13,000
Sports memorabilia$126,500
Signage and graphics (excluding pylon or monument signage)$43,000 to $100,000
Training expenses$8,000 to $12,000
Initial inventory$15,000 to $19,000
Insurance$14,400 to $48,000
Additional funds – 3 months$100,000 to $150,000
Rent$7,500 to $40,000
Lease and utility security deposits$10,000 to $20,000
Grand opening advertising$12,500
Liquor license$5,000 to $500,000
Professional fees$20,000 to $70,000
Total Estimated Initial Investment*$2,875,845 to $4,830,320
* for new franchisees only

Note: The table above provides a snapshot of the main costs associated with starting the most common franchise format (as disclosed in the Item 7 of the Franchise Disclosure Document). For a complete overview of all the expenses involved with the various formats offered by the franchisor, please consult the Franchise Disclosure Document.

Franchise fees & Royalties

Initial Franchise Fee

The Initial Franchise Fee is nonrefundable and must be paid in full on the date you sign the Agreement. It is earned upon receipt and covers the franchisor’s expenses and services for granting the franchise rights. The typical fee is $25,000.

Royalty Fee

For the first half of the Franchise Agreement term, the Royalty Fee is 5% of Gross Sales. For the second half, it is the greater of 5% of Gross Sales or the then-current Royalty Fee under the franchisor’s form of franchise agreement, with a maximum increase of 0.5% during the term.

Marketing/Advertising Fee

You are required to pay a weekly “Advertising Fee” equal to 3.75% of Gross Sales. The franchisor reserves the right to adjust this percentage.

Renewal Fees

The renewal fee is $20,000, and then the current initial franchise fee for Non-Traditional Locations applies upon signing the renewal franchise agreement.


Revenue & Profits

a financial plan for a franchise
a financial plan for a franchise

Franchise pros and cons

The Pros:

  • Training: the franchisor offers a management training course to help new sports bar owners familiarize themselves with the business model. The in-restaurant training lasts 60-120 days. In addition, franchisees can expect 210 hours of on-the-job training and another 40 hours of classroom training. 
  • Third-party financing: Buffalo Wild Wings does not offer direct or indirect financial support to its franchisees. However, its third-party affiliates can provide funding to cover the cost of equipment, startup costs, accounts receivable, payroll, and inventory. 
  • Global presence: Buffalo Wild Wings is a leading casual dining restaurant, and its good reputation makes it easier for franchisees to tap into new markets. 
  • An innovative menu: the combination of spiced chicken wings in different seasonings with beer and the sports-viewing thrill is unmatched. Also, the sauce varieties entice customers to keep coming back for more. This helps restaurant owners stand out from the competition. 
  • Marketing planning and support: the franchisor provides detailed marketing support and promotional campaigns. These include social media management, ad templates, email marketing, regional advertising, national media, and website development. 
  • Ongoing support: the parent company supports franchisees in every step of the business operation. This includes the grand opening, site selection, propriety software, field operations, security and safety procedures, and online support.

The Cons:

  • No absentee ownership: the franchisor expects new restaurant owners to participate in the business’s daily operations. It’s almost impossible to pursue other investment opportunities if you own a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise. 
  • Not a home-based franchise: franchisees can only operate their businesses from an active office or retail facility. 
  • 40-60 employee requirement: this is the minimum number of employees to run the franchise business. 
  • No exclusive territories: Buffalo Wild Wings does not give restaurant owners exclusive rights to operate their franchise businesses in the selected regions. You may face fierce competition from similar units and other restaurant chains like Applebee’s, Chili’s, and Wingstop. 
  • The ambiance may not suit everyone: Buffalo Wild Wings is loved for its wings, beer, and sports combination. But the ambiance may not suit customers looking for a serene environment.

How to open a Buffalo Wild Wings Franchise

1: Research and Preliminary Information

  • Understand the Brand: Familiarize yourself with Buffalo Wild Wings’ brand, menu, and unique selling propositions.
  • Review Financial Requirements: Ensure you meet the minimum financial requirements which include a net worth of $1.5 million and $750,000 in liquid assets.
  • Explore Franchise Benefits: Recognize the support and resources provided to franchisees, such as training, marketing, and operational support.

2: Initial Contact and Application

  • Inquiry Submission: Fill out the franchise inquiry form on the Buffalo Wild Wings franchising website to express your interest.
  • Receive Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD): Review the FDD provided by Buffalo Wild Wings. This document contains crucial information about the franchise.
  • Application Process: Complete the application to provide details about your financial status and business experience.

3: Approval and Training

  • Interviews and Approval: Participate in interviews and await approval from the franchisor. This may involve background checks and further financial reviews.
  • Franchise Training: Attend comprehensive training programs which cover everything from day-to-day operations to employee management and local marketing strategies.
  • Site Selection and Development: With the help of Buffalo Wild Wings, choose an appropriate location and begin the design and construction process guided by their standards.

4: Opening and Operation

  • Grand Opening Preparation: Plan and execute a grand opening event with the support of Buffalo Wild Wings’ marketing team.
  • Ongoing Support: Utilize the continuous support offered in operations, training updates, and marketing campaigns.
  • Community Engagement: Engage with your local community to build a customer base and integrate your business into the local market.


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