FL-Based Wing Chain to Open 17 Locations in MN

Hurricane Grill & Wings decided to expand into Minnesota and build new locations in three other states "after seeing unprecedented growth throughout the year."

Buffalo Wild Wings will soon have another competitor on its home turf.

West Palm Beach, Florida-based Hurricane Grill & Wings said Thursday that it plans to enter Minnesota by opening 17 franchises within the state.

Hurricane offers savory chicken wings in five categories and more than 32 signature sauces.

The chain now has more than 40 locations in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania-the vast majority of which are franchises. In addition to expanding into Minnesota, the company also will expand its footprint in Florida and enter Alabama and Georgia.

Tom Petska is a franchise area developer responsible for building 55 new locations within the four states and finding franchisees through a partnership agreement with Hurricane. He told Twin Cities Business that the first Minnesota restaurant will likely be open within nine to 12 months, and all 17 will be up and running within eight years. The precise locations of the franchises haven't yet been determined.

Petska acknowledged that Hurricane will compete with Golden Valley-based Buffalo Wild Wings as wings are “a core part” of its menu. But he believes that competition will be limited because the atmospheres of each chain are differentiated. While Buffalo Wild Wings is more of “a sports bar” that targets young adults, Hurricane is geared toward families and has a beach theme, he said. Although alcohol is available at Hurricane locations, it comprises only 15 percent of sales, he added.

Hurricane said that it decided to expand “after seeing unprecedented growth throughout the year.”

With more than 780 locations and a market value that exceeds $1.1 billion, Golden Valley-based Buffalo Wild Wings is larger than Hurricane-but it too has experienced significant growth in recent years. Its annual growth rate has hovered around 25 percent, and it made Fortune's 2011 list of the 100 fastest-growing companies. The company reported $613.3 million in 2010 revenue and opened its first restaurant in Canada in May.

Hurricane opened its first restaurant in April 1995 in Fort Pierce, Florida.