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'Guardrails' guide Buffalo Wild Wings' Investment Push


Buffalo Wild Wings has embarked on a five-plus-year effort to invest in emerging brands, and CEO Sally Smith tells Franchise Times she has instituted “guardrails” in order to guide the management team’s search process.

“If we could find three to five to seven concepts to invest in, similar to private equity, wouldn’t it be great to be in on the ground floor?” Smith said in an interview.

Smith details the company’s first such investment, a minority stake in PizzaRev of Los Angeles, in the April issue of Franchise Times.

Acquisition “guardrails” include: the concept has to work across the country; the concept needs to be franchise-able; the concept has to be a simple operation, “so that excludes fine dining,” she noted; and the concept cannot be a quick-service restaurant. “We eliminated QSR because we’re not experts in that.”

She also likes concepts still owned by the founders. “We want them to have passionate founders. It reminds us of the early days of Buffalo Wild Wings.”

She notes it’s easy to get sidetracked when reviewing investment ideas, and the rules help her team guard against it.


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About This Blog

The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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