Buffalo Wild Wings’ casual restaurant concept is going fast casual.
Two restaurants called B-Dubs Express are scheduled to open in Edina on July 24 and in Hopkins on Aug. 7.
The new format is inspired by the trend toward takeout and in-home dining. The B-Dubs locations will be about 2,500 square feet with seating for 35 to 50 people. Its full-service restaurants are about 6,000 square feet and seat 250.
“We want to take the Fast Break, 15-minute lunch guarantee in our full-house restaurants and apply that whole mentality to B-Dubs Express,” said Todd Kronebusch, vice president of market development. “It’s about convenience, speed, quality of food and value.”
The move comes as the Golden Valley-based company tries to reignite growth after a leveling off in the number of openings of its full-size restaurants.
The abbreviated menu features chicken wings, tenders and sandwiches, burgers, salads, buffalo macaroni and cheese as well as beer and wine. Delivery will be available through DoorDash.
Both locations are former Pizza Rev restaurants that closed at the end of April. The company had purchased the franchise rights from the California-based pizza chain in 2014 and had once planned to open 25 locations.
The Hopkins spot is located at 525 Blake Road. N. The Edina restaurant is in Centennial Lakes at 7529 France Av. S.
“We deliberately chose the existing Pizza Rev locations because we want to move quickly on these formats,” said Kronebusch.
The Edina B-Dubs Express sits only a few blocks from a full-service Wild Wings in Southdale. The proximity of the two is deliberate. Southdale is one of the company’s top two restaurants for takeout business, but Kronebusch is aware that some guests refuse to go into a mall area due to congestion and parking difficulty. “We know there will be cannibalization,” he said. “I think we can drive more capacity for takeout.”
Wild Wings began working on the Express concept about 18 months ago. Four more locations are in the works, which are expected to be tweaked based on the Edina and Hopkins tests. They are looking at adding a takeout option that doesn’t require the customer to get out of the car.
And there are other alternative brands under consideration too, including at stadiums, malls and college campuses: “B-Dubs to go,” Kronebusch called it.
Buffalo Wild Wings was one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the U.S. from 2003 to 2013 and has about 1,200 U.S. locations and 40 international ones. Openings slowed to about 20 a year over the past couple of years, down from about 100 annually as recently as 2013.
Shareholders at the company’s annual meeting on June 2 voted in directors led by an activist investor. The chief executive who led the company for 21 years, Sally Smith, announced at the meeting that she will soon retire.