NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) is fresh off serving up a solid second quarter for investors to chew on. And, through the first four weeks of the third quarter, same-restaurant sales at company operated restaurants were up 4.8%. At franchise locations, same-restaurant sales gained 2%.
The momentum in Buffalo Wild Wings' business in the second quarter, and into July, was confronted by significant volatility in the stock market in August. So far, it doesn't appear wing fans have stopped visiting the restaurant chain in light of hits to their 401(k) and stock trading accounts.
"I think the consumer is certainly affected by what happens in the stock market, but that usually happens when they get their 401(k) statement at the end of the quarter," pointed out Buffalo Wild Wings President and CEO Sally J. Smith in an interview with TheStreet. According to Smith, low gas prices and an improving employment market are key factors likely to contribute to further sales strength for Buffalo Wild Wings.
Bu, to service those customers while continuing to open up new restaurants, Buffalo Wild Wings needs more workers. Those workers are becoming increasingly scarce. "The labor market has definitely tightened up, there is a lot of competition," said Smith.
The competition for skilled labor has become some fierce that fast casual restaurant Chipotle (CMG) - Get Report will hold a national hiring day in early September with the goal of securing 4,000 new employees. Smith mentioned that minimum wage increases at major retailers such as Wal-Mart (WMT) - Get Report and Target (TGT) - Get Report is a headwind for the restaurant industry.
Said Smith, "What I'm concerned with the most over the next three to five years is the availability of labor and increasing pressures on wages."
In the third quarter, the company will increase its prices on alcohol, mostly for beer, to help offset some of the wage pressure. Sales of alcohol represent about 21% of Buffalo Wild Wings' business. Positioned alongside that ice cold beer will be a somewhat spicier menu for B-Dubs, as it's affectionately called by fans of the brand. In large part that reflects a broader trend toward spicy food among consumers, one that has caused companies such as PepsiCo (PEP) - Get Report to create extra spicy Doritos and Restaurant Brands' (QSR) - Get Report Burger King to unveil spicy chicken fries.
"Taste profiles have increasingly livened up, I think that's an influence of people traveling around the world and getting a taste for other cuisines," said Smith.
The company has introduced a host of limited-time only spicy wing sauces in the past several months to capitalize on the trend. Examples include sriracha sizzle, wicked wasabi, ghost pepper, smoldering Santa Fe and Moroccan fire. The company has also incorporated its buffalo sauce into a macaroni and cheese dish.