- Buffalo Wild Wings is opening its first “GO” concept restaurant on Wednesday in Atlanta, which is designed specifically for takeout and delivery orders, according to a press release. The 1,800-square-foot facility is located near the Buffalo Wild Wings Atlanta Support Center.
- The format features a walk-up counter, digital menu boards, condensed seating, and TVs to entertain guests while they wait for their food. Guests who call ahead can pick up their orders from heated takeout lockers for a contactless experience.
- The to-go only store will offer traditional and boneless wings, hand-breaded tenders, sides and all 23 Buffalo Wild Wings sauces and daily rubs.
Although launching a new restaurant may seem like risky business in the age of COVID-19, this takeout-focused format may position Buffalo Wild Wings to see solid traffic.
In previous weeks, restaurants have pivoted quickly to offering takeout or delivery. These channels could drive higher average tickets — before the novel coronavirus impacted the U.S. market, around 60% of consumers ordered delivery or takeout once a week, and 34% spent at least $50 when ordering food online, according to Upserve research. Twenty percent of consumers reported spending more through digital orders compared to dine-in orders.
Takeout sales have been outpacing delivery sales during the pandemic, and this could very well continue even as dine-in restrictions are eased, which will benefit this new Buffalo Wild Wings model. With the chain having to convert its over 1,250 sports bars into to-go only models during the pandemic, it also gained insights into the takeout and delivery model that have been applied to the new model, the press release says.
Georgia recently lifted its ban on dine-in service, but that doesn’t mean consumers are rushing back into retail establishments. Many could still be waiting out the pandemic at home, especially if they are high-risk individuals or in close contact with a high-risk individual.
Buffalo Wild Wings’ parent company, Inspire Brands, has shown interest in alternative store formats, including ghost kitchens, in the past. The company is exploring two ghost kitchens based on two names it trademarked in January: Alliance Kitchen and Inspire Kitchen. As diners show increasing demand for new and innovative ways to get their food, legacy brands like Inspire, which also owns Arby’s and Jimmy John’s, are investing in innovation. In January 2019, Buffalo Wild Wings opened two newly designed restaurants that included a dedicated, enclosed area with a separate entrance for takeout orders and designated parking for to-go orders.
Embracing the future is no doubt motivated by competition from other brands who are already meeting consumers’ demand for modern convenience. Shake Shack recently tested a takeout and delivery-focused restaurant concept tin New York City, for example, and is planning to add drive-thrus and pickup windows to existing locations to allow for social distanced ordering. KFC is piloting a drive-thru-only concept in Australia, Starbucks launched a pickup-only store last year and Sweetgreen's newest concept nixes its assembly line format for digital kiosk ordering. Chipotle is experimenting with pickup windows as part of its heavy focus on digital offerings, which could further bolster its strong digital performance.