The wings are ready and the beer is flowing at Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar in Dickinson.
The long-awaited restaurant officially opened its doors Monday after a weekend training opening that packed its roughly 8,300 square foot facility in the West Ridge Development on Saturday night and whet the community’s appetite for the city’s first new national chain restaurant in more than a decade.
“We’re expecting this to be one of the busiest Buffalo Wild Wings in the franchise,” said Ken Herslip of Minot, who along with his family owns the Dickinson, Minot and Williston franchise locations.
Tory Crowe, the regional manager for the three locations, said management and owners have set a lofty — yet likely attainable — goal of a nationally record-breaking week. He said management is much better prepared for the Dickinson location opening than it was for others, including Williston.
“We hope to get this one to franchise of the year,” Crowe said of the company award.
Crowe said even the most frequent Buffalo Wild Wings customer will recognize that Dickinson’s location is a little different than others, as it employed a concept design.
The faux brick walls are accented by a brighter, more “vibrant” design featuring larger windows and lighter colors than other locations in the chain. Crowe called it “less cave-like than most other Buffalo Wild Wings.”
A year-round patio area on the restaurant’s west side features windows that can open like a garage door for use during summer months. Like it was Monday, the patio is heated and the windows are closed during colder months.
Even the bar area is different than most locations, Crowe said. The bar’s horseshoe design has a large, two-sided video board above it that customers can see from just about anywhere. There are more than 70 TVs throughout the restaurant.
Staffing hasn’t been an issue, either.
Dani Reichenberger, Herslip’s daughter and a franchisee, said Buffalo Wild Wings has about 155 employees. She said their training events last weekend went well, as did its first sponsored community event, in which Dickinson State University athletes fundraised by selling $5 drink tickets.
“I think it went fairly well,” Reichenberger said of the training opening. “We didn’t have any bumps. We’re not overly short anywhere, so hopefully we can just keep everybody around.”
One person happy to be there was general manager ReNee Hauck, who said she held the same position at Perkins for 17½ years and worked there since it opened in 1994.
She called her new job an exciting change of pace.
“It’s a completely different atmosphere,” she said with a laugh. “It’s upbeat, it’s fun.”
Cooper Whitman, the executive director of the Dickinson Chamber of Commerce, attended the Saturday training opening with his wife and friends, and said seeing a packed house with customers waiting outside accentuated how much anticipation there was for the chain to open its doors.
“It shows that pent-up excitement for this type of restaurant,” Whitman said.
He said national franchises often get a bad reputation in towns Dickinson’s size as they’re perceived to take business away from smaller, family-run operations. He doesn’t expect that to be a factor with Buffalo Wild Wings because of Dickinson’s population influx.
“You can frown on franchises all you want, but when you have new people coming to the community in droves like we have, this is what they’re looking for first,” Whitman said. “They want to get comfortable. They want to know if they can live here, and then they start looking for the local places. You need both. They support each other. It’s just a quality-of-life thing for everybody.”
Herslip said he is excited to finally have Buffalo Wild Wings open after working for more than two years to get it built and dealing with the various slowdowns and hurdles that come with building in workforce-starved western North Dakota.
“We’re pretty confident that it’ll be a pretty good store,” he said. “Dickinson has opened their arms to us, and they’ve helped in every way, shape or form.”