When Jamie Carawan, Vice President of Brand Menu and Culinary of Buffalo Wild Wings, joined the brand in June 2018, he put the wheels in motion for a complete overhaul of the sports bar’s menu. Close to two years later, Carawan can proudly look back at the job his team has done after earning the Nation’s Restaurant News 2020 MenuMasters Award for the Best Menu Revamp.
“This is extremely gratifying to win this award,” said Carawan. “It’s a testament to not only the culinary team at Buffalo Wild Wings but what we’re building here at Inspire Brands through our marketing, insights, supply chain, POS and so many other departments. We work for a company that is committed to great innovation and I think this is a great example of that.”
Carawan’s first day at Buffalo Wild Wings nearly two years ago was spent identifying how the brand could return to its roots as THE great American sports bar and what the roadmap to doing so looked like.
“The general sentiment was that we had some foundational menu items we needed to fix,” said Carawan. “Our menu simply wasn’t delivering on what a great sports bar experience looks like.”
First, the culinary team focused on refreshing the brand’s burger as the All-American Cheeseburger fully dressed as a double-stack burger with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard and pickles on a toasted challah bun. The fresh, never frozen All-American Cheeseburger was met with rave reviews, leading to popular YouTube influencer Furious Pete calling it “one of the best burgers” he’s ever eaten.
“Having a great burger is a must for any sports bar, so we knew – as the great American sports bar – we had to take our burger game to the next level,” said Carawan.
The culinary team then worked on what Carawan called the “most ambitious innovation project that Buffalo Wild Wings has ever embarked on.” They introduced an all-new hand-breaded, beer-battered chicken platform: Chicken Tenders, the Southern Chicken Sandwich and the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich. The beer batter provides a unique coating thanks to a higher alcohol volume and produces a chicken product that’s crispy on the outside while remaining juicy and flavorful on the inside.
To round out the year, Carawan and the culinary team completed one of the most difficult projects of his career, when the brand unveiled juicier, tastier boneless wings. The team worked since August 2018 on improving the sports bar’s boneless wing for the first time in 16 years.
The new chicken wing is first marinated in a blend of spices then coated in a savory new breading. With over 30 percent less breading than before, the larger piece of marinated white chicken packs more flavor into every bite.
“We want to ensure that what we serve at Buffalo Wild Wings is truly best in class,” said Carawan. “We’re accomplishing that now with all these great additions to our menu and I can’t wait for our fans to see what we have in store for years to come.”