Buffalo Wild Wings Is About to Get Even More Entertaining

With BEOND tablets in every location, Buffalo Wild Wings aims to boost diners' engagement.
Source: Buffalo Wild Wings.

In case it wasn't enough to offer a fun atmosphere with beer, wings, and walls of televisions showcasing dozens of sporting events, Buffalo Wild Wings  (NASDAQ: BWLD  ) is about to become even more entertaining.

On Thursday, B-Wild announced it's expanding its partnership with NTN Buzztime  (NYSEMKT: NTN  ) to bring the smaller company's BEOND tablet-based entertainment platform to all Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants by the end of 2015. As of the end of last year, that meant more than 1,000 Buffalo Wild Wings locations.

Specifically, that means bringing a seven-inch Samsung Galaxy tablet to every guest -- customized for Buffalo Wild Wings' business, of course -- letting them order food, request a specific TV channel or song, pay their bill, play games like trivia and poker, and even set up a Blazin' Wing Challenge.

The multiyear agreement also involves replacing Buffalo Wild Wings' existing Buzztime Playmaker trivia consoles and follows a successful test of the new product in 30 locations. In fact, NTN's BEOND is already being used in roughly 150 company-owned restaurants. By the end of 2014, Buffalo Wild Wings expects the tablets to be available in 350 more.

If you can't quite picture what the new tablets are all about, here's a handy overview and some testimonials from the folks at NTN Buzztime:

Buffalo Wild Wings already has its head in the game...
It's not as though Buffalo Wild Wings needed the help. Last quarter's revenue grew 22% year over year on a comparable 13-week basis, driven by impressive same-store sales growth at company-owned and franchised locations of 5.2% and 3.1%, respectively. Earnings per share fared even better, increasing 57.1% over the same year-ago period.

What's more, Buffalo Wild Wings told investors same-store sales for the first five weeks of 2014 increased 4.8% and 2.1% at company-owned and franchised locations -- and we haven't even begun to see the positive effects of March Madness.

Meanwhile, casual-dining competitor Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI  ) last week questionably blamed bad weather and a Thanksgiving holiday shift for the most recent quarter's respective same-store sales decreases of 5.4% and 8.8% at Olive Garden and Red Lobster, respectively. Even excluding those negative events, however, Darden says same-store sales still would have fallen 2.8% at Olive Garden and 6.2% at Red Lobster.

And Darden isn't alone. Closer to Buffalo Wild Wings' wheelhouse is craft beer specialist BJ's Restaurants (NASDAQ: BJRI  ) , which -- despite steady locations growth -- has put together a series of earnings disappointments so impressive it practically has shareholders begging for activist investors to step in. Comps fell by 2.7% during BJ's Restaurants' fourth quarter, thanks to both a 2.3% decline in foot traffic and a 0.4% decrease in average check price.

The funny thing is, BJ's Restaurants CEO Greg Trojan pointed out those figures are actually better than the casual dining industry as a whole, which goes to show just how impressive Buffalo Wild Wings' recent performance really is.

However, keep in mind Buffalo Wild Wings investors did punish the stock following those aforementioned quarterly results, primarily because of what the market perceived as worrisome forward-looking comments from management, who warned rising wing prices could depress earnings growth in the second half of this year.

...but they can have their wings and eat 'em, too
Even so, Buffalo Wild Wings new volume-based pricing structure should give it at least some control in moderating the effects of rising ingredient costs, so investors shouldn't need to fear an exact repeat of last year's expensive wings debacle.

But if Buffalo Wild Wings can do even better, why shouldn't it try?

That's where NTN Buzztime's latest creation comes into play. By creating a more immersive, interactive, and convenient restaurant experience through BEOND, Buffalo Wild Wings can not only entice diners to stick around longer and spend more money, but can also make them want to come back for more -- that is, even more than they already did.

What do you think? Is BEOND just a gimmick, or will it be a big win for Buffalo Wild Wings? Sound off in the comments section below.

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Read/Post Comments (14) | Recommend This Article (11)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 12, 2014, at 9:48 PM, dackerman21 wrote:

    Nice article Steve.

    I love the idea. I'm one of those guys who needs to always be doing something. Ive gone too a few BWLD and I get bored if I'm just watching a game. Also, during busy times, it is very loud inside and it is hard to hear your friends/family members across the table.

    With this new NTN Buzztime, I think it will give people more things to do if they don't want to just talk or watch a game. Playing poker or trivia or ordering from the tablet seem like fun and exciting things to do. I really think it will increase the experience of going to BWLD's.

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2014, at 7:20 AM, Jkrevat wrote:

    Are they worried about the wing sauce and grease on peoples fingers messing up the tablet screens? They may have to provide gloves.

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2014, at 8:28 AM, olbig11 wrote:

    WE NEED A BUFFALO WILD WINGS IN PONCA CITY OKLAHOMA THANK YOU>

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2014, at 8:44 AM, huston58 wrote:

    this sounds like a cool idea but how will they prove they clean and disinfect them in between costoumers because if they don't who would want to touch those things while they are eating??????

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2014, at 9:33 AM, BiggMann wrote:

    Now if they could just come up with some good wings.

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2014, at 10:33 AM, dackerman21 wrote:

    I'm sure they will figure out a way to clean the screens. They are idiots.

    Maybe they have special covers on the screens? Maybe they will hand clean them after each customers uses them.

    If they can grow their Market Cap from $300 million to $2.7 Billion in 10 years, I'm sure they can figure out how to clean the screens of Samsung Notes.

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2014, at 10:34 AM, dackerman21 wrote:

    Above Post meant too read:

    They are NOT idiots

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2014, at 11:06 AM, comosichiam wrote:

    They obviously have some intelligent people in their organization who know how to formulate desirable products and ideas for the consumers.

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2014, at 1:15 PM, imDanielle2 wrote:

    Darden decided to get involved in politics so they have shoved their customers to other and better restaurants! When we finally see the headline saying Red Lobster and Olive Garden close their doors I will be happier.. The boycotts are working but they are living in fantasy land trying to blame everything/everyone else .. All these other restaurants are doing OK, hell a lot of them are making record profits.. Guess what, they actually pay their employee's better and customers are tired of hearing about slave wages for the people who serve their food to them!

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2014, at 3:59 PM, buckwargo wrote:

    I suggest they start by improving the food. It's not very good. It's cheap but I won't go there any longer to eat.

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2014, at 5:12 PM, Renekton wrote:

    Buffalo Wild Wings is terrible. The food is awful and way overpriced. Went there once, won't make that mistake again.

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2014, at 5:25 PM, Paladin63 wrote:

    Heck they can bring in dancing monkeys with shaved legs wearing eye makeup and smoking cigarettes playing "Dueling Banjos" (which is a misnomer since it is a single banjo and guitar that is used but I digress; revert forcing their wait staff to wearing thongs decorated with cake frosting and I still WOULD NOT GO TO A B-Dubs for the clear and simple fact that they DO NOT RESPECT THE SECOND AMENDMENT and prohibit law abiding citizens who have passed more stringent federal level criminal background checks than their own employees from carrying a firearm for self protection.

    They further do not provide the same or even any diminished level of protection to their customers making B-Dubs in my opinion an 'un-safe' establishment.

    They will not see another dollar form me for as long as they maintain their stance against law abiding citizens.

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2014, at 8:33 PM, TYPEONEGATIVE wrote:

    Or you could talk with your friends and family like normal people.

    God damn this country and it's lack of social skills.

  • Report this Comment On March 13, 2014, at 10:42 PM, Balexdk wrote:

    The very new B-Dubs in Los Angeles at the Howard Hughes Center has these tablets. They have kid apps and also you can join their club and earn pts to turn them in to win prizes. I was able to play Poker with bots or other people dining. It's was a lot of fun!

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