All restaurants use audio to set a mood, but sports bars depend on a complicated audiovisual ecosystem to generate a high energy atmosphere that attracts a shifting and diverse clientele. One of the most spectacular users of integrated audiovisual experiences is Buffalo Wild Wings, with more than 1,000 locations in all 50 states. Stephen Sullivan is President of Antsul Group, operators of eight New Jersey “B-Dubs” franchises, with two more in development.
“Compelling AV is the main attraction,” Sullivan says. “We’re not only competing with every other bar who’s got Monday Night Football or a UFC matchup, we’re also competing with watching the game at home. We have to offer bigger sound and better picture quality than our competition, as well as your house. We sell Buffalo wings, but we also offer a unique audiovisual experience.”
With more than 50 big screens in each location, showing more than a dozen video and audio sources at the same time, simplified control is key. B-Dubs can create sub-zones within their main spaces, to serve groups interested in a particular sport or event, but reconfiguring spaces and changing content must be easy and quick. Automated systems that use tablets and iPhones for simplified user control are helping managers up their game to create many concurrent audiovisual experiences that don’t interfere with each other — even for a single customer.
Sullivan notes, “If someone comes in and maybe the Big Game is something they’re less interested in, we can change one of the TVs in their proximity and bring a speaker to the table that’s synced with the action. This whole process takes, maybe, 90 seconds. Twenty years ago, they’d have wasted most of that customer’s meal finding the right remote to change one TV. Dedicated sound wasn’t even an option back then.”
That kind of micro control is also reflected in Sullivan’s macro control. He can check in on any of his restaurants while located at another. “With all of the technology in our restaurants,” he says, “it could be overwhelming to try to manage it all, but our control system allows us to make sure we have the happiest customers. After all, keeping our customers happy is the whole point.”
Even without their famous dipping sauces, Buffalo Wild Wings delivers the hottest sports bar experiences, through the application of integrated AV.