Buffalo Wild Wings’ Investment Strategy Starts with Pizza Chain

The company said it is exploring additional investment opportunities in other emerging restaurant concepts that have growth potential.

Buffalo Wild Wings—the fast-growing restaurant chain known for chicken wings and beer—is branching out with an investment in a Los Angeles-based pizza chain.

And the investment marks the first step in a larger strategy through which the Golden Valley-based company plans to invest in other emerging restaurant concepts.

PizzaRev—which bills itself as a fast-casual, artisan pizza chain—announced the investment on Monday, and Buffalo Wild Wings disclosed it in a Tuesday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Both said that Buffalo Wild Wings acquired a minority stake in the company, although the terms of the deal were not disclosed.

PizzaRev says that it offers a “truly interactive dining experience.” Customers craft their own pizzas by choosing from a variety of ingredients; pizzas can include an unlimited number of toppings, and each costs $7.95, according to the company's website. The restaurant fires the pizzas in a stone-hearth oven, cooking them for less than three minutes to create a crispy, Roman-style thin-crust pizza.

During the past year, Buffalo Wild Wings has been “investigating emerging restaurant concepts with high growth potential as we continue to build our dynamic company,” Kathy Benning, executive vice president of global marketing, brand, and business development, said in a statement. “Along with chicken wings, pizza is one of America’s most popular foods, and we believe that PizzaRev has great potential for continued growth and success.”

Benning was not available Tuesday morning to respond to questions about additional investment or acquisition plans.

PizzaRev was founded by Irv Zuckerman and Rodney Eckerman, former co-CEOs of Clear Channel Entertainment. It currently has three locations in the Los Angeles area.

Zuckerman said in a statement that he believes the investor relationship with Buffalo Wild Wings “can have immediate impact in accelerating our growth and establishing a leadership position in the fast-casual landscape.”

News of the investment comes shortly after Buffalo Wild Wings announced international expansion plans. Earlier this month, the company said it reached deals with three Mexican franchise groups to open multiple restaurants in the country during the next six years.

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.

Buffalo Wild Wings was founded in 1982 and currently has more than 900 locations across 49 states and Canada, including 29 in Minnesota. It is among Minnesota’s 35 largest public companies based on revenue, which totaled $1.04 billion in its most recent fiscal year.

Vice President of International Business Development Matt Brokl recently told Twin Cities Business that the company aims to open about 100 new restaurants this year, the vast majority of which will be in the United States. It remains in discussions with groups around the world regarding the potential for additional expansion, he said.

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