Restaurant Development & Design

MAR-APR 2018.

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 8 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • 2 1 TREND Bird Is the Word Starbird HQ: San Francisco Units open: 3 Average check: $10-$11 2018 expansion plans: 5 new units Starbird hatched in 2016 as the first restaurant concept by The Culinary Edge Ventures, a new division of San- Francisco-based consulting firm The Culinary Edge, whose principals got the itch to practice what they preach and create their own game-changing concepts. With Starbird, they set out to redefine the quick-serve chicken segment with a focus on providing a "super-premium" fast-food experience and a reimagined approach to drive- thru convenience. With three Bay Area units currently open — in Sunnyvale, San Jose and Foster City — the brand touts "positively delicious chicken." GMO-free and locally sourced, it's served grilled or crispy in cre- ative sandwiches served on freshly baked rolls. Cut in-house, chicken destined for the fryer is brined, hand-battered and fried in gluten-free rice bran oil. "We felt that the fast-food chicken segment was kind of tired," says Annie Culver, marketing lead at Starbird. "Ev- ery chicken place seems to be Southern nostalgia or fried chicken, biscuits and gravy. Chicken is really the protein of our generation — better for the environ- ment and more sustainable than beef. We saw a big opportunity to create a fresh, California-inspired fast-food chicken menu." The brand's Starbird sandwich is its best seller. It features crispy chicken, kale-based super slaw and avocado. Other sandwich options include the Free Range Ranch, with slaw, bacon, pimento cheese and Greek yogurt ranch; the Banh Mi, with pickled carrots, cucumbers, jalapenos, cilantro and Sriracha mayo; and the new Spicy Sriracha Buffalo, with dill pickles, ranch slaw, mayo, Greek yogurt ranch and Sriracha Buffalo sauce. Seasonally inspired sandwiches are offered, as is a soy-marinated tofu alternative. Chicken- or tofu-based tacos add diversity to the menu, along with entree salads, fries and a side option of kale-based slaw. Beverages include locally roasted hot and iced coffee as well as house-made seasonal lemonades and teas. Starbird's Sunnyvale unit also vies for breakfast business. Opening at 8 a.m., it offers favorites such as Chicken and the Egg, a crispy chicken sandwich with egg, pimento cheese and bacon, and the Maple Bacon Breakfast Taco, featuring crispy chicken, egg, bacon and maple aioli on a corn tortilla. If a disruptor in terms of providing "culinarily credible" fast food, By Dana Tanyeri B etter burgers, better pizza, better Mexican? Been there, done that. A big new buzz in the elevated fast-casual world is all around chicken, with a new flock of next-gen, chicken-centric brands taking flight. And why not? Chicken has a lot going for it. It's more sustainable and affordable than red meats, it's often a more health- ful protein choice, and it's versatile. What's more, from a landlord's perspective, fresh and fun new chicken concepts add a little some- thing different to the tenant mix. Here's a look at three emerging brands worth clucking about. Starbird promises high-quality, transparent and tech-driven quick service. Eschewing traditional drive-thru, the brand lets customers order via app and get car-side delivery. Images courtesy of The Culinary Edge Ventures

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