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The Power List
Rita Patel, chief marketing officer for Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings CMO on accelerating digital efforts

Rita Patel talks about the chain's focus on consumer experience during the pandemic. Meet the innovative, inclusive and industry changing leaders of the 2021 NRN Power List.

Rita Patel, chief marketing officer for Buffalo Wild Wings, was chosen for the NRN Power List by Karim Webb, a Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee and CEO of 4th MVMT for how she is helping to “propel Buffalo Wild Wings into its post-pandemic future.” Here’s what else Webb had to say:

Rita is a dynamic leader and strategist who has leveraged her experiences in adult beverages, at MillerCoors, and retail, at Target, to  propel Buffalo Wild Wings into its post-pandemic future — a very bright one with Rita leading our marketing efforts.

Nation’s Restaurant News talked with Rita Patel about navigating the challenges of 2020 and what’s ahead for her company. Here’s what she had to say:

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned during this chaotic year?

2020 has truly been one of the most challenging years of my career. This September, I accepted the role of chief marketing officer of Buffalo Wild Wings and moved over 1,000 miles from Minneapolis to Atlanta. Joining a restaurant brand in the middle of a pandemic was certainly a risk, but I made the decision with confidence. Confidence in Inspire Brands and its leadership; in Buffalo Wild Wings, a strong brand that inspires hope; and confidence in myself to lead the marketing organization.

Confidence has consistently been a driving factor in everything I do. We all had to make some tough decisions this year – both personally and professionally. In the process, I’ve learned the value in ensuring the people around me feel confident in their ability to make the right call.


What does leadership and impact mean to you? 

As I reflect on my own career, fundamental to accepting each and every new role has been a strong belief in the leadership and culture underpinning that organization. Great leaders have the capacity to support and motivate their team members — even when the going gets tough. That has never been more important than in this year, when we’ve all needed a little extra grit and determination to help our brands succeed.

I myself am honored to lead an extremely talented group of 70+ marketers whose passion for and dedication to the Buffalo Wild Wings brand is unparalleled. They’ve responded to every new challenge with a nimble approach and positive attitude, all while maintaining their commitment to supporting the thousands of hardworking team members in our sports bars.

As you look to the future of foodservice, what excites you?

I am looking forward to a lot in 2021, but most notably I am excited to continue to evolve the Buffalo Wild Wings brand to meet the needs of our guests. Consumers were already digitizing so many moments of their lives, and historically, we’ve seen that pivotal global events drive trends like this forward. It is safe to say that the pandemic has only accelerated the way restaurant brands incorporate digital into consumer interactions.

At Buffalo Wild Wings, we will continue to leverage digital capabilities to maximize our guest experience — from streamlining transactions, enhancing our off-premises offerings and personalizing guest interactions. Ultimately, our goal is to deliver legendary experiences for our guests, whether that be in our sports bars or in their homes.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I can’t wait for sports to be back in full swing!

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