The fastest-growing restaurant chain in the country will be making its North Dakota debut in Minot, and the restaurant's owners plan to add a healthy dose of fun to a winning recipe that also includes great taste and reasonable prices.
Buffalo Wings & Rings will be located at 910-24th Ave. SW, right next to the Fairfield Inn and within walking distance of Dakota Square. The Cincinnati, Ohio-based restaurant chain was recently named the fastest growing franchise with sales between $25 million and $50 million by Restaurant Business magazine.
Al and Mary Hauck, owners of the Minot restaurant, said they are excited to be bringing a completely new eating experience to not only Minot, but the region as well. The next-closest Buffalo Wings & Rings is in Rapid City, S.D., which is also the only location in that state.
The things that make the chain so successful are pretty simple, according to Al. A wide variety of freshly prepared food offered at a reasonable price in a fun atmosphere is the key that keeps families coming back.
"That's basically what this whole concept is," Al said. "It's just a family-style (restaurant) with reasonable pricing and fun."
The quality and freshness of the food is something Buffalo Wings & Rings hangs its hat on. Al said the buffalo wings are never frozen and always prepared fresh. And if variety is the spice of life, customers will have quite a few spices to choose from. The buffalo wings have five different levels of hotness, ranging from mild to the tear-inducing atomic. Add to that 10 different sauces to choose from, including sweet barbeque, garlic parmesan and crazy, and you'll have to make quite a few trips just to sample all the varieties of buffalo wings.
And the restaurant's fare isn't limited to the wide variety of wings, either. Gyros, pitas, salads, wraps, soups and massive 1/2 pound burgers are all on the menu, ensuring every member of the family will always find something new to try.
Along with the dine-in experience, the restaurant will also offer take-out and catering services. Patrons will also have the option to go the the company Web site at (www.buffalowingsandrings.com) and place an order online for take-out.
The food won't be the only draw, either. A fun atmosphere is also important to the Haucks, and there will be various games scattered around the restaurant as well as video arcade games on some of the tables.
Mary said the video arcade games are basically a little box that sits on the table, and after putting in a small amount of money the player is presented with a variety of different games to play.
For the sports fanatic, a section of the restaurant will feature a sports bar with 10 to 12 taps. There will be around 20 televisions throughout the restaurant and bar showing high definition sports programming. Al said once they get going, the NFL Sunday Ticket programming package on DirecTV that shows every NFL game every week is definitely something they will be investing in. Along with the NFL, just about all the big sporting events throughout the year, including college favorites such as the NCAA basketball tournament in March, will be featured on the TVs,
"It's something we've always wanted to do. We've always had a passion for a sports bar atmosphere, facility, restaurant bar," Mary said. "And, you know, when we ran across this opportunity, everything worked good. Everything looked good and everything, you know, was positive. And we thought now's the time to do it."
Another way Buffalo Wings and Rings sets itself apart from other restaurants is offering a meeting room capable of holding 45 people. Attached to the meeting room is a patio that could bring the total number of people up to 65.
Combined with the patio, the meeting room will be a unique venue for everything from business meetings to birthday parties.
The total occupancy of the restaurant will be 260, or 280 if the patio is in use.
Being involved with the community is another aspect of the business they are excited about. Al and Mary gave examples of being involved with Minot State University and various high schools around the area as things they are looking forward to the new business allowing them to do.
The Haucks decided to pursue a Buffalo Wings & Rings franchise after years of careful research. They knew they wanted to be involved with a sports bar of some type because of the fun atmosphere, and found that this franchise seemed to support the type of experience that's enjoyable for both kids and adults.
"(We) found this franchise and have been watching them for about a two year period of time," Al said. "Watching them grow, and (we) just really believe this is going to be an up and coming franchise."
Mary said starting a new franchise is not something they take lightly, and they wouldn't have gotten this far along in the process unless they were certain the restaurant would be successful.
"For us, this is not something that we're putting together quickly. We've been looking at this for over two years, and after meeting with and talking to the CEO of the franchise and stuff, we decided maybe this wouldn't be such a bad thing," she said. "You know, Minot could use more restaurants and this would be probably a fun one for people, and for us. We want it to be fun for us, too."
The exterior of the building is up, and Al hopes to begin the bidding process to work on the interior soon. The Haucks hope to start construction on the interior in the beginning of October, and have everything ready to go for the grand opening sometime in January.
The operating hours haven't yet been set in stone, but the tentative plan is probably 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
As for staffing, they will be looking to hire somewhere around 40 people, depending on scheduling issues and other factors.
While the opening is still a ways off, the Haucks admit they are getting a little antsy for the big day to arrive. The combination of a fun sports bar and family-friendly restaurant with games for the little kids and wall-to-wall sports programming for the big kids is what they think will make Buffalo Wings & Rings a big hit when the grand opening finally does come.
"We're extremely excited. That's where the impatient part works in," Al said. "So yes, we're extremely excited to open."