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First Look: Buffalo Wild Wings gets a sports-inspired makeover

BY Marianne Wilson

Buffalo Wild Wings is going back to its roots — with some high-tech enhancements.

The restaurant chain unveiled a new design that reflects the brand’s heritage as an American sports bar and provides an immersive restaurant and bar experience. The new design — the company’s first since 2012 — includes a more dominant bar that anchors the indoor and outdoor dining experience, free flowing and flexible seating areas, VIP spaces and stadium-like A/V technologies with LED modular screens. It also includes a fully enclosed patio with rollup doors and skylights.

The exterior features wood, metal and brick textures, with the refreshed Buffalo Wild Wings logo. A glass door providing access to the patio is located on the left side of the entry. Along the left side of the building, past the patio, is a dedicated entrance for takeout.

Patrons enter into an open area that provides access to the bar, the dining space and two new concepts: the Dugout and the MVP room. The Dugout was created as an extension of the waiting area near the front entrance by the bar. It features comfortable lounge seating and bleachers made from recycled basketball courts.

The MVP room is accessible only to patrons 21 years or older. It boasts two 80-inch televisions, a third 60-inch television, gaming consoles and six self-pour beer taps (subject to local restrictions). Updated A/V technology will provide a “mini stadium environment,” with the opportunity to showcase competitive gaming from the MVP room across all screens in the restaurant.

A focal point of the new design is the bar, which is made from recycled basketball courts and has two rows of beer taps. The design also makes spirits more of a feature than in the past and will enable a more ambitious cocktail program. In addition to an LED modular jumbotron screen overhead, the bar features televisions on all sides along with flexible and community tables.

The larger dining area is flexible space with a mix of booths, single-tables, and community-style tables. The room can be opened up as additional overflow from the bar, or it can be closed off to create a separate area.

“We wanted to have a big variation of seating and allow guests to pull tables together as they please,” said Jim Cannon, senior VP of design, architecture and construction, Inspire Brands, whose portfolio of restaurant brands includes more than 4,500 Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and R Taco locations. “From the Dugout seating to the lounge area that’s in the patio, we’ve got booths, tables, chairs and even rails. Our guests now have choices they never had before.”

One of the most unique features of the new design includes LED environmental lighting, providing the ability to create activated lighting events based on crowd noise. The lighting combinations can be customized to include the colors of pro, college and high school sports teams, showcasing team colors based on local fan bases. With a microphone inserted into a panel in the ceiling, crowd noise would activate the lights to celebrate legendary sports moments in the restaurant.

The takeout area is enclosed separately with its own dedicated entrance. The space features a sauce bottle wall and televisions for patrons to watch while waiting on their food. Outside, there are designated parking spots for to-go orders.

The new design is making its debut in two Buffalo Wild Wings’ locations, with one in New Caney, Texas, and the other in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Two additional sites will open in early January, in Arden, North Carolina, and Fort Worth, Texas.

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