The Buffalo Spot has built a fried chicken empire with the help of a simple, yet tasty, niche – buffalo fries. After opening in Long Beach, California in 2013, the Buffalo Spot now has more than 30 locations across California, Arizona and Nevada. The Buffalo Spot has called Irvine home since May 2019.
By popularizing the hashtag #WorldFamousBuffaloFries on social media, the Buffalo Spot has created a unique niche for itself by serving heaps of French fries loaded with chopped and dice pieces of hand-breaded fried chicken. The chicken is then sauced with different flavors of “buffalo-style” sauce, with signature flavors like mango habanero, Tajin and pineapple jalapeno.
“Eighty percent of our sales is buffalo fries, where a lot of our competition would be a lot of chicken wing places, like Wingstop and Buffalo Wild Wings. Yet our niche – the Buffalo Fries – that’s what we’re known for,” Matt Martinez, Director of Marketing for the Buffalo Spot, said in an interview with Irvine Weekly. “In the past year or so, we’ve been debuting more limited time offerings. We launched mango habanero this year, which was kind of an overdue item, Nashville and Tajin – which was never used as a topping for chicken wings.”
Backed by a team of young professionals, Martinez points to social media as one of the primary tools of trade used to build the Buffalo Spot’s success. The Buffalo Spot has amassed more than 25,000 followers on Instagram, which Martinez credits to the company’s focus on the customer experience through social media.
“We have a really creative team here, we’re young millennials managing a business as executives. We’re very progressive – our owner, he’s [only] 36 years old – we all kind of agree on using social media and online ordering, and we’ve been able to adapt since March, just using social media to increase our online ordering.”
The pandemic has created panic in the restaurant industry, considering the opening and closure of indoor and outdoor dining through the majority of the year.
In Irvine, the Buffalo Spot, which is located near UC Irvine, has struggled considering its proximity to the campus. When the pandemic began, one of the biggest challenges to overcome was losing the physical traffic from UC Irvine after the campus was closed.
Arash Veysi, owner of the Buffalo Spot’s Irvine location, explained how his location essentially became detrimental to their success.
“Where we are located is more of an issue. When COVID-19 hit, we lost all the UC Irvine students, our biggest audience, as we are right in front of the university. We are isolated to the south of Irvine, and not many companies or residential areas are around us,” he explained in an email with Irvine Weekly.
Veysi, who operates the Irvine location with his wife Sachley, has lived in Irvine for 15 years, and explained that it was essential to adapt. However, thanks to the help of the Buffalo Spot’s top-down leadership model, the Buffalo Spot’s Irvine location has been doing well.
“We quickly added delivery systems (UberEATS, DoorDash, Grubhub and the Buffalo Spot Online Ordering) to our restaurant to reach a different part of Irvine. We have deployed safety measures to protect our employees and customers,” he wrote. “We are optimistic that when the vaccine is deployed, we will be welcoming back UCI students.”
Martinez added that the Buffalo Spot has been able to adapt to new COVID-19 protocols, while still having the ability to shift focus onto the customer experience, a trait that he believes is the result of having a young, adaptive team.
As a result of this attention to detail focused on the customer experience, the Buffalo Spot has created viral food moments on TikTok and Instagram by using the power of food influencers, along with new, intuitive ideas.
In August, the Buffalo Spot introduced the Boss Fries ($29.99), a pizza-box divided into four quadrants, loaded with the Buffalo Spot’s signature buffalo fries – but served family style. Martinez added that the Boss Fries have become the company’s most successful limited time offer to date.
“We were just goofing around. We said, ‘Let’s get a pizza box and put like a bunch of fries in it and put the chicken on top,’ and when we came out with that it went viral – over 2 million views,” he said. “We sold 70 Boss Fries the first week with no advertisement, and the second week, once it went viral, we sold over 1,000 in California.”
Looking into next year, Martinez hinted at a Boss Fries 2.0 for the upcoming Super Bowl, along with some new flavor concepts, including Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. He added that finding creative energy to continue enhancing the customer experience was the most challenging aspect.
“I think the creativity part of it, and being able to stay ahead of the game, was the most difficult thing, so we were just constantly bringing up ideas,” he said. “One thing that we saw was that everybody was pulling out their money for marketing for a lot of restaurants. We took that plunge. We decided to double up, because we thought those who invest now are really going to succeed.”
The Buffalo Spot
4511 Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 92612