Industries Commercial Real Estate

Best Real Estate Transaction: Retail

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THE PLAYERS

Broker
J.C. Wynkoop , S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co., Norfolk, who represented Buffalo Wild Wings in Virginia

Glenn Remus , Director of real estate, Buffalo Wild Wings

Description

In 2006, Wynkoop — a broker who specializes in tenant representation — contacted the corporate headquarters of Buffalo Wild Wings in Minneapolis to inquire about bringing its national brand to Hampton Roads. He convinced Buffalo Wild Wings that the region’s college-age population, military sector and love of sports made it a natural fit for the company’s sports-themed restaurants.  “I called them, emailed them and bugged them,” Wynkoop recalls. 


The deal

About seven months later, the corporate real estate staff decided to visit the region and wanted to see a couple of sites. Wynkoop put together a list of seven locations. Besides looking for new or existing developments, part of his strategy in site selection was considering restaurants in good locations that weren’t drawing a lot of customers. “I would see if there was any interest in selling their building or letting Wild Wings take over their lease.”

Today, Buffalo Wild Wings’ top two performing restaurants in the market — in the Greenbrier area of Chesapeake and on Jefferson Avenue in Newport News — are located in what were formerly Don Pablo’s Mexican restaurants.

Buffalo Wild Wings opened its first store in 2007 at Landstown Commons, a shopping center in Virginia Beach, but not before Wynkoop received a surprise visit. Sally J. Smith, president and CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings, checked out the site herself. “She makes sure operations and the retail people are on the same side,” says Wynkoop.  Since then, “Every store that has been opened, she has visually seen the site.”

Today, the company, which offers chicken wings with a variety of sauces in an atmosphere with large-screen televisions, has 10 locations either open or under construction in Hampton Roads.  Each store employs about 60 to 70 people, including full- and part-time positions.  A typical restaurant ranges in size from 6,000 to 7,000 square feet and represents a $1.6 million investment. 

Glenn Remus, director of real estate for Buffalo Wild Wings, said the 10 restaurants will employ about 800 people and generate about $30 million a year. “The Hampton Roads market has performed extremely well for us,” he says, with most locations “performing above our national average.” 

Currently, Buffalo Wild Wings is building a new property at 31 Ocean, a mixed-use development at 31st Street in Virginia Beach. It also has a restaurant at the Wells Fargo Center in downtown Norfolk, where S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co. is located. 


What made it stand out

Persistence in going after a national brand.  The rollout has been so successful, even during a down real estate market in recent years, that Buffalo Wild Wings is considering two additional corporate locations.  “J.C. is a great business partner,” says Remus. “It’s key to have a broker network and a broker who has the pulse on the community. J.C. knows Hampton Roads inside and out.”


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