Chicken concepts are hatching everywhere
What’s driving the chicken trend? Steadily affordable chicken prices, according to the USDA, as well as fried chicken’s nostalgic all-American associations. It’s also becoming easier to source higher-quality products.
The “fine casual” chicken-and-egg concept was born in a corrugated metal shed on the property next to the fine-dining restaurant Juniper & Ivy, owned by Michael Rosen and “Top Chef” all-star Richard Blais.
And, it’s not your typical fried-chicken joint. Guests can order five or 10 pieces of fried chicken with dipping sauces, as well as sandwiches, like the Señor Croque with crispy chicken, bacon, fried egg, cheddar, and miso-maple butter on a brioche. The classic slaw includes kale, kimchi, agave mustard and a celery-seed dressing. And starters might include “Mexican poutine,” or schmaltz fries served with pollo asado and jalapeno cheese whiz.
Industry veteran Aaron Noveshen launched this new concept in Sunnyvale, CA.
It is designed to blur the lines within limited service, offering a “super-premium” menu built around fried chicken tenders with the speed and convenience of fast food. The centerpiece of the menu is a boneless fried chicken tender that appears across a platform of sandwiches, salads and tacos, though grilled chicken is also available. The chicken is a local product from Petaluma Farms, raised without antibiotics or genetically modified feed, and air chilled. And since eggs come from chickens, Starbird also offers breakfast with a lineup of breakfast sandwiches, tacos and burritos.
The Bird is a new brand by San Francisco-based multiconcept operator Back of the House Inc., parent to the Beretta, Belga and Delarosa restaurants, as well as the 10-unit Super Duper Burgers chain.
The Bird stands out for its focus on quality ingredients, including natural and free-range chicken and proprietary buns – the same buns made for the Super Duper better-burger brand. At the heart of concept’s menu is its fried chicken sandwich, although grilled chicken breast is also be an option. Down the road, The Bird will also offer breakfast, focusing on egg-based sandwiches in the morning. Furthermore, the menu leans organic as much as possible.
The Chicken or the Egg
The Chicken or the Egg
To be located in the “Silicon Beach” neighborhood of Playa Vista, known as a hub for well-heeled tech industry workers, the Chicken or the Egg is the brainchild of two alums of the fast-casual Mendocino Farms sandwich chain. Hunter Pritchett, who was previously corporate brand chef for Mendocino Farms, is the partner and head chef of the Chicken or the Egg, along with Sean Krajewski, who was a regional director of operations.
The two have designed the Chicken or the Egg as a scalable concept, offering breakfast and lunch and featuring egg-based and chicken sandwiches using premium ingredients, like organic eggs from Chino Valley Ranchers, artisan bread from local bakery BreadBar and organic and free-range chicken from Mary’s in central California. Menu items include a not-so-basic bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, fried chicken that is soaked in a buttermilk brine with herbs and pickle juice and breaded in a gluten-free mix, and a vegan cauliflower steak sandwich with a Buffalo-like sauce.
John Kunkel, c.e.o. and founder of 50 Eggs, (one of Restaurant Hospitality’s 25 Coolest Multi-Concept Companies) is expanding its portfolio with Spring Chicken, a fast-casual iteration of the company’s full-service fried-chicken-focused Yardbird Southern Table & Bar.
Offerings include Blue Plate Specials with fried chicken, biscuits, waffles, mac and cheese and mint-seasoned watermelon.
Chicago multi-concept operator DMK Restaurants (DMK Burger Bar, MK the Restaurant, and also an RH25 Coolest Multi-Concept Company) has entered the fast-casual chicken arena with Arlen’s Chicken in Evanston, IL.
The menu includes items such as Arlen's Chicken nuggets served with house-made sauces and tater tots and breakfast sandwiches.
Steven Redzikowski and Bryan Dayton, executive chef and beverage director, respectively, of upscale operations Oak at Fourteenth (Boulder, CO) and Acorn (Denver) launched Brider, a fast-casual rotisserie concept in Denver.
Brider (pronounced bree-day, the French term for tying meat, as you would before roasting) seeks to “bring a level of authenticity to the fast casual space,” says Redzikowski. “The concept uses a state-of-the-art imported Rotisol oven for its signature dishes including Rotisserie Roasted Chicken Bahn Mi with pate aioli, pickled carrots and cucumbers, and Thai herbs; and Rotisserie Roasted Lamb Leg.