Buffalo Wild Wings is playing catchup after the success of a rival chicken wing chain.
The chicken chain’s fourth quarter earnings missed analyst expectations on Wednesday, reporting a revenue of $466.4 million.
“Although, we’re not pleased with our fourth quarter same-store sales, we are actively executing on several sales initiatives and have confidence Buffalo Wild Wings will gain sales momentum,” CEO Sally Smith said in an earnings call on Wednesday.
Much of the anticipated momentum builds on traditional aspects of Buffalo Wild Wings’ business: Super Bowl sales, new beers, and improving the weekday lunch.
However, there is one area of growth that demonstrates a major trend in the modern wings business: the rise of takeout.
“Takeout is a rapidly growing part of our business,” said Smith. “Our takeout is already leading casual dining, and we believe we can capture additional takeout with online ordering.”
In 2016, Buffalo Wild Wings plans to drive higher takeout check averages with increased drinks and desserts sales, as well as by making the larger order and group ordering takeout menus available online. The company will also increase its focus on takeout in marketing and digital technology.
In the fourth quarter, takeout accounted for roughly 15% of Buffalo Wild Wing’s sales. While that isn’t bad for a sit-down, casual dining chain, it isn’t even close to the figures from its fast-food or fast-casual counterparts.
For example, 75% of Wingstop’s business is takeout, something that allows the chicken wings chain to keep restaurants small, minimise costs, and more seamlessly tap into the growing online ordering market. The 785-location chain delivered its 12th consecutive year of positive same-store sales in 2015.
Casual dining chains such as Buffalo Wild Wings have struggled to keep up with the growth of speedier wings chains and the wider fast-casual industry. As a result, these sit-down chains are working to beef up their catering and to-go options. Even Hooters, a chain built on customers stopping to stay and chat with their attractive waitresses, is currently trying to grow its to-go business with a Super Bowl take-away deal.
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