Buffalo Wild Wings Continues Intl Expansion, Enters Mexico

The restaurant chain, which entered Canada in 2011 and has plans for new locations in the Middle East and Puerto Rico, has now reached agreements with franchisees for a rollout in Mexico.

Fast-growing Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc., is continuing its international expansion with a push into Mexico.

The Golden Valley-based restaurant chain has reached deals with three Mexican franchise groups—Prensa, Family Dine Foods, and Grupo SE—to open restaurants in the country.

Each of the franchise partners has reached an agreement to develop multiple restaurants during the next six years, Buffalo Wild Wings’ Vice President of International Business Development Matt Brokl told Twin Cities Business. The company declined to disclose how many restaurants are included in the development agreements, but Brokl said the franchisees are “looking to open them as quickly as they can,” and three locations are expected to open this year.

The new Mexico locations will feature Buffalo Wild Wings’ new restaurant design, which it launched last year and which is meant to create a more stadium-like atmosphere that emphasizes sports viewing.

Buffalo Wild Wings expects the new format to be particularly appealing to Mexican diners, Brokl said, adding that research shows the country’s residents are attracted to family and casual dining, as well as sports viewing. The restaurants are expected to primarily serve Mexican citizens; Buffalo Wild Wings is not targeting tourism-heavy areas. Markets being considered include Monterrey, Chihuahua, and Mérida, according to Brokl.

Buffalo Wild Wings began its international expansion in 2011 with a push into Canada, where it now has nine locations. Last summer, the company revealed plans to expand into the Middle East and Puerto Rico; it said at the time that it signed two franchising agreements: one to open up to 22 locations across six countries in the Middle East over the next six years—and the other for four locations in Puerto Rico over the next four years. The company plans to open the first of those restaurants later this year.

While the company is significantly customizing its offerings to adhere to cultural customs in the Middle East (by not selling alcohol, for example), Buffalo Wild Wings does not plan to change its menu for Mexican diners, Brokl said.

Buffalo Wild Wings’ goal is to open about 100 new restaurants this year, the vast majority of which will be in the United States, Brokl said. While the company has no other solidified expansion plans, it remains in discussions with groups around the world about potential growth, he added.

“As we explore new markets, we take the time to learn about the countries, cultures, and potential partners,” CEO and President Sally Smith said in a statement. “We are pleased to be working with three franchise partners who all have extensive experience in restaurants and retail—and most importantly, a deep understanding of the market and our target guest.”

Buffalo Wild Wings was founded in 1982 and currently has more than 900 locations across 49 states and Canada, including 29 in Minnesota. It has grown significantly under Smith, who took over as chief executive in 1996. To learn more about Smith, who was inducted into Twin Cities Business’ Minnesota Business Hall of Fame last year, click here.

Buffalo Wild Wings is among Minnesota’s 35 largest public companies based on revenue, which totaled $1.04 billion in its most recent fiscal year.