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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2 4 • 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 • M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 8 TREND The Chickery HQ: Washington, D.C. Units open: 2 Average check: $15-$16 2018 expansion plans: 25-30 new units The Chickery promises "better chicken, better service, 100 percent of the time," says CEO Kert Gennings, who took the reins at the company last summer. An operations and franchising veteran who has helped chains including The Halal Guys, Jersey Mike's and Boardwalk Fresh Burgers & Fries grow, Gennings says The Chickery's time has come. Gennings has launched a rebranding drive and introduced new menu items, working with Washington, D.C.-based chef Spike Mendelsohn, a former "Top Chef" contestant. The chain also recent- ly partnered with Fransmart to kick-start a domestic and international franchise expansion drive. With corporate stores operating in Toronto, where it was found- ed in 2012, and Washington, D.C., near its new headquarters in Alexandria, Va., The Chickery is set to open new units in Dubai and San Jose, Calif., as well, with 25 to 30 new units expected to open by the end of this year. "We plan to grow heavily in California but also in the D.C. metro area and North Carolina," Gennings says. "We're also looking at New York, Denver and Chicago. A good portion of our international development will be in the Middle East, and we're also looking at Asian markets." As for The Chickery's menu, it's all about fresh, antibiotic- and hormone- free chicken served in preparations that range from healthful to indulgent. Un- like most quick-service chicken chains, where fried chicken reigns, rotisserie is a big draw here as well. The brand's signature Rotisserie Fried Chicken (RFC) is a differentiator. Cooked rotis- serie chickens are flash fried, creating chicken that is crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. While the chain launched with a focus on chicken fingers and family- style dinners, Mendelsohn helped shift the menu focus to sandwiches. A new menu section called The Chicky Bunch debuted last summer. It features eight signature sandwiches, each with a hashtagged name. Among the best sell- ers: #ChickeryClassic (crispy chicken, lettuce, tomato, buttermilk herb mayo) and #TheBlueHot (hot fried chicken, lettuce, pickles, blue cheese crumbles, buttermilk ranch dressing). Four rotisserie chicken sandwiches are also offered, as is the #CauliFire sandwich, which pairs battered and fried cauliflower with hot sauce, lettuce, tomato and buttermilk ranch dressing. A new dip bar being tested in the Washington, D.C., unit lets guests customize their sandwiches further or simply enjoy the brand's signature sauces as dips. Positioned as a self- service area, the bar features pump containers filled with sauces such as chipotle lime cream, buttermilk ranch and Asian sesame. Sides at The Chickery stray from the familiar cornbread, mashed pota- toes and coleslaw in favor of popular selections like poutine, grilled street corn on the cob, Cajun dirty rice, braised kale and buttermilk waffles. Along with its menu, the brand has worked to tweak its prototype. It offers three basic models: urban, suburban and freestanding with drive-thru. Its design is intended to create a casual, warm, comfortable and fun environ- ment, with the rotisserie being a focal point of every unit's open kitchen. "We try to be fun and a step up from the typical fast casual," Gennings says. "I'd call our aesthetic a blend of rustic and calming. We have all sorts of chicken imagery on display, funky yellow and red colors, and a mix of seating styles." In addition to dine-in, which gener- ates 50 percent of sales, catering has emerged as a strong revenue generator. Catering volume grew by 62 percent in 2017 over 2016. The company also re- cently began testing a late-night menu in D.C., remaining open until 3:30 a.m. on weekends. + Designed to be fun and a step up from fast casual, The Chickery specializes in both fried and rotisserie chicken sandwiches, chicken fingers, and family-style chicken dinners. Image courtesy of The Chickery

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