Buffalo Wings & Rings, a Cincinnati-based restaurant/sports bar chain, plans to open as many as five new locations in Louisville by the end of 2020 or early 2021.
The chain currently operates 60 stores in 12 states, including six in Kentucky. The closest is the newly opened location in Shelbyville.
Buffalo Wings & Rings markets itself as a “club level” sports bar experience that is family-friendly.
“If you go to the game, there is the fan zone, and you’ve got the club level,” explains Chief Development Officer Philip Schram. “Everybody is watching the same game, but the club level experience is a higher level than the fan zone.”
The angle reflects a chain-wide commitment to quality food, atmosphere and service, one Schram says he and his operating partners believe is superior to competing wing chains. He notes one differentiator is a heavier focus on family-friendliness.
Schram says specific locations in Louisville currently are being scouted, and the company is willing to either convert existing buildings or construct. Most Buffalo Wings & Rings restaurants, he says, are usually about 5,000 to 6,000 square feet and typically require about an acre of land to incorporate parking.
The investment to launch a new store is about $3 million, Schram says.
Using site-selection software, Buffalo Wings & Rings is actively looking for Louisville locations, specifically around the I-264 “beltway” and along the I-64 corridor.
Long-term, the chain plans to have a total of 25 Kentucky locations within five years from now, with each store employing approximately 25 people. While there are Buffalo Wings & Rings locations in Texas and California, the focus for future growth is largely on the Midwest and Great Plains.
A renewed focus on the immediate areas around Cincinnati also will see locations opening in Columbus, Indianapolis and Lexington, plus county seats in areas between those cities.
Schram says the new focus on Louisville came about because research showed residents here tend to travel within the region regularly, meaning many have already been exposed to the brand. This pinpointed Louisville as being ready for multiple stores.
“They know who we are,” he says. “It makes more sense than to find a random location in Idaho.”