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This Up-and-Coming Chain Is About To Double In Size

The company has plans to build 30 new restaurants, more than doubling its current footprint.

Fast food's chicken segment is about to get more crowded. Chicken tender chain Huey Magoo's is on track to double in size this year, according to the company's CEO, Andy Howard. The company has plans to build 30 new restaurants, more than doubling its current footprint.

Howard sat down with QSR this week to discuss Huey Magoo's journey from a three-restaurant business in Orlando to a 23-unit brand with national ambitions. In addition to the footprint growth slated for this year, Huey Magoo's has another 225 locations in the works (spread across nine states in the South and Southwest), and partnerships with 30 franchise groups.

Related: The 8 Worst Fast-Food Burgers to Stay Away From Right Now

Howard is a recognized "chicken expert" in the fast-food industry, having worked in leadership positions at top chicken chains for most of his career. He's best known for his tenure at Wingstop, which he helped to expand to 600 restaurants in the space of ten years. He is also credited for the addition of boneless wings to the Wingstop menu in 2005.

basket of chicken tenders
Genevere S. / Yelp

It was his experience with boneless wings that set Howard on the path to Huey Magoo's. Seeing the success of tenders at Wingstop—which grew to 50% of sales at some locations—he began to wonder whether the Wingstop business model could be applied to a chicken tender chain.

Setting out to find "the world's greatest chicken tender," he discovered Huey Magoo's in 2016, owned by Matt Armstrong and Thad Hudgens. With a team of former executives from Wingstop, Howard acquired the company and set about franchising it.

While the chicken segment is increasingly competitive, Huey Magoo's has set itself apart from the crowd in a number of ways. To begin with, there's the product: Huey Magoo's has a legitimate claim to offering some of the best chicken tenders in the industry. Limiting itself to steroid and hormone-free poultry, the chain uses only filet mignon cuts of chicken—making it, literally, "The Filet Mignon of Chicken."

Then there's the business model. Bearing a family resemblance to Wingstop, Huey Magoo's strip mall-adjacent restaurants are streamlined and geared towards order-ahead and pickup sales, giving them an edge in the current market. Roberts believes that the chain's top competitors aren't as focused on off-premise sales.

Finally, there's the Huey Magoo's executive team. The chain is stacked from top to bottom with Wingstop veterans, brought along by Roberts. With the best minds in fried chicken on its side, the sky's the limit for this up-and-coming chicken chain.

For more fast-food news, check out these 5 Fast-Food Chains That Are Opening Up Unique Drive-Thru Locations.

Owen Duff
Owen Duff is a freelance journalist based in Vermont, home of Ben & Jerry’s. Read more about Owen