Buffalo Wild Wings' new plan to crush Chipotle and Panera Bread is working

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Buffalo Wild Wings' Expansion Plan Takes Flight

Buffalo Wild Wings wants to take over the lunch business.

In early July, the chicken chain introduced a 15-minute lunch guarantee. On Tuesday, while announcing second quarter earnings, the company reported that the new program was already driving traffic.

"We're encouraged by the sales we've seen from the program as it addresses a key daypart," CEO Sally Smith said in a call with analysts on Tuesday. "The Fast Break Lunch guarantee promotes team member and fan engagement in a fun and competitive way, and also engages our fans with our tablet technology."

Executives said that the new guarantee is a way to draw customers who may not be Buffalo Wild Wings loyalists, but instead are seeking an inexpensive and convenient deal from any restaurant.

RELATED: Some of America's top fast-food restaurants

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America's Top 10 fast food restaurants
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America's Top 10 fast food restaurants

10. Starbucks

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9. Little Caesars

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8. Domino's Pizza

(Photo: Elizabeth Hait)

7. Subway 

(Photo: Shutterstock)

6. Dunkin Donuts

(Photo: Shutterstock)

5. Pizza Hut

(Photo: Shutterstock)

4. Papa John's 

(Photo: Shutterstock)

3. Panera Bread

(Photo: JeepersMedia/Flickr)

2. Chipotle

(Photo: Shutterstock)

1. Chick-Fil-A

(Photo: Shutterstock)

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With the rise of fast-casual chains like Panera Bread and Chipotle, a number of casual dining chains have struggled to keep up with the speedier rivals.

Casual dining chains such as Applebee's, Olive Garden, and TGI Friday's have recently debuted brand revamps in attempts to set themselves apart from the competition. Many of the changes are clearly inspired by the fast-casual industry, including redesigns that emphasize convenience, faster customer turnaround, and increased attention to ingredients.

According to Buffalo Wild Wings executives, the lunchtime guarantee is key because it focuses on what the chain does well, instead of trying to be something it isn't.

"We're seeing an exceptional initial response in driving traffic to our wings," said COO James Schmidt. "Those are core to us and we're known for particularly the wings."

Further, the chain already had the capability to serve lunch speedily. Buffalo Wild Wing's reported that the money lost by giving away free lunches to customers who didn't receive their meals in 15 minutes is currently just half of what the company budgeted for.

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Buffalo chicken -- 19 ways
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Buffalo chicken -- 19 ways
Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

"This was a really fabulous and easy sandwich, and it had just the right amount of kick! My whole family asked to have it again." -bmxmama

Unbelievable Baked Buffalo Wings

"I was so surprised that these baked wings could compare to the fried ones — they're absolutely the best! (I'm a wing fanatic, so when I say this recipe is great, I mean it!)" -*pink*

Slow-Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip

"What a great party dip! You can also make it with leftover cooked chicken breasts. I serve it alongside tortilla chips and celery sticks." -Denise Reynolds

Buffalo Chicken Tenders

"These chicken tenders were so easy to prepare. The crunchiness on the outside was as perfect as the tenderness on the inside, and their flavor was magnificent!" -irishgrl40

Buffalo Chicken Mac-N-Cheese

"I tried this recipe one day on a whim, and it turned out to be such a hit. It's so quick to make — you can mix all of the ingredients during the time the pasta is boiling. Before you know it, your meal is ready!" -Baby Bluez

Great Buffalo Chicken Pizza

"An excellent change from the same ol' pizza! I used a refrigerated roll of pizza crust and everything came out perfectly. I'll definitely be making this again, especially now that football season is around the corner! " -Misa

Buffalo Chicken Eggs

Deviled eggs are a favorite party appetizer, and these spicy staples are shaped like miniature footballs! Make sure to let them sit for 15 minutes before serving so the flavors can develop.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Breasts

"These buffalo chicken breasts are as good as buffalo chicken wings without all of the mess."  -Jazz Lover

Buffalo Chicken Balls

"These chicken balls are simple, delicious and pefect for Super Bowl Sunday. Sometimes I even have to make an extra batch because they go so fast! You can freeze them, too." -Scoutie

Buffalo Chicken Wings

"These babies are seriously addictive and totally delicious. Even my non-wing-eating husband was packing away huge amounts of them!" -Noo

Loaded Potato & Buffalo Chicken Casserole

It doesn't matter how big your Super Bowl spread will be — this tangy and cheesy buffalo chicken bake is guaranteed to disappear before the halftime performance.

Buffalo Chicken Tortilla Cups

Sure, these tasty little buffalo chicken appetizers are cute, but beware: They pack some heat! Make sure to scoop the filling just before serving to prevent the tortilla cups from becoming soggy.

Buffalo Chicken Chili

A generous addition of buffalo wing sauce transforms this easy chicken chili from flavorful to mind-blowing. It's perfect party fare.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

"Wow, this salad was so easy to make and very filling. It tasted just like something you would get in a restaurant." -Chef Carol Shelby

Stuffed Potatoes with Buffalo Chicken

Facing a ravenous Super Bowl crowd? No sweat — these hearty baked potatoes come fully loaded with buffalo chicken, blue cheese and sour cream.

Low-Fat Buffalo Chicken Strips

"These were so simple to make and were the perfect topping on my mixed greens salad!" -aloha808

Creamy Buffalo Chicken Pasta

"This one will go into my cold weather/comfort food day cookbook. Everyone in the family enjoyed it. " -Beautiful BC

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

"A spicy side dish that will suit many seasons." -MavenTim

Best Buffalo Wing Sauce

"I love this recipe. It’s great if you want to add your own twists." -raylenewebster14

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The 15-minute guarantee is part of a bigger plan at Buffalo Wild Wings to boost its quick-service lunch business. The company is investing in growing its takeout business, with takeout sales increasing 25% in the second quarter over the prior year on a dollar basis.

Buffalo Wild Wing's sales have been slipping in recent quarters. In the second quarter, sales at company-owned stores open for at least one year fell 2.1% during the quarter, and fell 2.6% at franchised restaurants.

As the new 15-minute lunch guarantee launched in the early third quarter, it's true impact on sales will not be revealed until the company's next earnings report. A thriving lunch business would be key to turning around sales at the chain — and Buffalo Wild Wings has realized time is of the essence.

NOW WATCH: We did a blind taste test of wings from Pizza Hut, Domino's, Papa John's, and Buffalo Wild Wings — the winner was clear

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SEE ALSO: Buffalo Wild Wings says the majority of the customers don't order real wings

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