The Free Press, Mankato, MN
Date: April 17, 2017
MANKATO — Buffalo Wings & Rings is opening its first Minnesota location in Mankato.
The Cincinnati-based sports restaurant franchise will open in part of the former Old Country Buffet building, across from the entrance to River Hills Mall.
The franchisee, Todd Fetter, already operates eight locations and said Mankato was the launching point for Minnesota because of determination by a local developer and by his impressions of the city.
The OCB building was bought by Kyle Smith and the Tailwind Group and is being divided into a few commercial spaces.
“The guys at Tailwind Group had reached out to Wings & Rings and that’s how I got involved,” Fetter said. “The corporate guys said I should talk to them and see what I thought. I like the aggressiveness of that Tailwind group, and we’ve really hit it off. They traveled with me to Aberdeen to see what our location there looks like,” he said.
“Mankato kind of chose us. But the more we learned about the town, we said this is where we need to be.”
He said the chain sets itself apart from other sports bars by offering a higher-level experience.
“It’s a club-level sports experienced as opposed to the mosh pit of a stadium. It’s more upscale, high-quality food served on fine china not in a paper boat.”
The restaurant will feature 40 TVs and the menu will include gyros, fresh salads, onion rings, homemade bleu cheese, and fresh wings and burgers.
Work on the building is already underway and the operators hope to be open by mid-September.
He said they are already getting resumes and will start hiring some positions soon with plans to have a staff of near 80 when they open.
Fetter, who took a break from planting soybeans for a phone interview, is not a typical franchise owner. He and his sons operate a corn and soybean farm in Ohio that was started by his grandfather in 1933. For 25 years Fetter also owned and operated a powder coating business, which he sold a few years ago.
“I had to keep doing something, and me and my boys love sports and wings and we said, ‘Let’s do this,'” Fetter said. “I’ve only been in the restaurant business for four years and I’m over 50. We’re passionate about it. We love it.”
Beside his sons, his wife, Audra, is also involved in the restaurants.
He got his first franchise and watched it succeed for two years before quickly opening more locations.
Buffalo Wings & Rings started in 1984 and has more than 70 stores. In the U.S., restaurants are in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.
They also have several locations in the Middle East, including Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Iraq and planned locations in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Last year “Franchise Business Review” named it as one of its “Top 40 Food and Beverage Franchises.”