Apparently, millennials are tiring of eating at “formal” chicken wing restaurants where patrons have to endure the agonizing process of waiting to be seated, dealing with a server and drinking a pitcher of beer while watching a sporting event. Earlier this year, the wing-loving chain Hooters announced it would be going after the fast-casual crowd with a streamlined spinoff called “Hoots.” Now, the even more wing-centric Buffalo Wild Wings has announced it’s making a similar move, trying out a new fast-casual concept teeth-grindingly named “B-Dubs Express.”
“It’s a smaller version of Buffalo Wild Wings,” Todd Kronebusch, Buffalo Wild Wings’ vice president for market development, said according to Nation’s Restaurant News. Orders will be placed at a counter, where diners will see about two-thirds of the usual Buffalo Wild Wings’ menu. These express locations will still have TVs showing sports, but will have far less seating than the full-sized locations – room for about 75 people. In fact, the initial two locations which will be opening up near the chain’s Minneapolis headquarters this summer will only have enough seating for about 35 to 50 people. B-Dubs will still have beer, but the main focus will be takeout, which “has continued to grow exponentially,” according to Kronebusch. In the first quarter of 2017, takeout and delivery made up 18.2 percent of the business’s revenue. The brand hopes its new fast-casual iteration will get about a 50-50 split between dine-in and takeout.
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Some may say – as Business Insider did earlier this month – that millennials demand for a leaner dining experience is killing established chains like BWW. “Casual-dining restaurants face a uniquely challenging market today,” the company’s CEO Sally Smith recently wrote shareholders. “Millennial consumers are more attracted than their elders to cooking at home, ordering delivery from restaurants, and eating quickly, in fast-casual or quick-serve restaurants.” But as we discussed yesterday, restaurants are increasingly finding that to compete, they must give in and adapt with innovations like delivery and online ordering. That’s simply the changing nature of the restaurant world. If we want to blame millennials for anything, it’s that somehow Buffalo Wild Wings thinks their generation will appreciate the name “B-Dubs Express” – and even that isn’t really their fault.