Buffalo Wild Wings still taking heat
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Minneapolis-based Buffalo Wild Wings’ firearms policy, which is posted on signs at every company-owned restaurant and has been in place since 2009, asks patrons not to bring guns into the store even if they have concealed-carry weapons permits.
Media attention toward the gun ban grew beginning in December, first with a short TV news segment about the policy from a Harrisburg, Pa., affiliate of CBS that aired Dec. 13, 2012, the evening before the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown. As the national debate over gun violence reignited following the shooting spree, more local newspapers began reporting on businesses in their areas with policies forbidding concealed weapons, including company markets for Buffalo Wild Wings.
By early January, people began posting to the brand’s timeline and leaving comments in the brand’s posts to criticize the policy — even in Buffalo Wild Wings’ posts focused solely on the chain’s “wings, beer and sports” positioning. Other people on the brand’s Facebook page fired back to defend the policy, and bitter name-calling often ensued.
Paley noted that the number of people talking about Buffalo Wild Wings’ page jumped to 221,325 on Dec. 14, the day of the Sandy Hook shooting, increasing from 165,784 people the day before. One month after the incident, however, that metric had fallen by 55 percent to 98,078 people talking about the brand’s page as users grew tired of the debate and stopped visiting, Paley said.
He added that Buffalo Wild Wings’ growth rate in new Facebook likes decelerated sharply during the outcry. The brand’s week-over-week audience growth dropped from 0.73 percent during the holiday season to 0.26 percent in January, when there should have been acceleration, Paley noted.
Buffalo Wild Wings spokeswoman Angie Andresen said in an email to Nation’s Restaurant News that the chain does not comment on internal policies related to communications, but the brand released the following statement regarding its ban of guns at company-owned restaurants:
“We’re a brand that is all about having fun with friends. Beginning in 2009, our company-owned restaurants, along with some franchised locations, began asking guests not to bring guns into Buffalo Wild Wings. That business practice has never been a comment on social or political issues. Our position isn’t new, and it hasn’t changed in years. We’re wings, beer and sports. Our focus is always to provide a great experience for all our guests on game day — and every day.”