HNT Chicken, a new quick-service fried chicken chain, opened its first location in the Philadelphia area last month located at 477 Franklin Mills Circle at the Philadelphia Mills Mall (formerly Franklin Mills Mall).
A second location opened last Friday, January 24th at 1401 66th Avenue in West Oak Lane and another is scheduled to open this Thursday, January 30th at 749 W. Hunting Park Avenue in North Philadelphia.
At the same time, HNT Chicken opened their first Connecticut location kicking off an aggressive company plan to have 65 restaurants open by the end of 2020 and 100 units in operation by June 2021.
Intrigued by the new concept, which is originally based in Brazil, I reached out to CEO Ronak Pandya about the Philadelphia-based fried chicken concept’s plan to grow the brand and why people should try HNT Chicken.
Philly Grub: Where is are you from?
Ronak Pandya: I grew up in the Philadelphia area and proud of my roots here, and excited to bring the HNT Chicken brand to the community.
PG: What inspired bringing the HNT Chicken brand here?
RP: We have been interested in the chicken category for a long time and based on our team’s deep experience with a variety of restaurants across the area, we feel like HNT is primed to be a major player in this popular segment. We discovered the Brazilian concept and it fits the type of approach to chicken that we feel will be successful here – but took some time after the acquisition to adjust our recipes to more closely align with American tastes and consumer expectations.
PG: What sets HNT Chicken apart from other fast-food fried chicken competitors?
RP: The product itself is tremendous and the flavor is bold and zesty, but familiar enough to please any chicken fan or connoisseur. Additionally, we have a deep level of understanding of the restaurant industry and the operations needed to provide an unparalleled experience. The combination of the great taste and the high level of customer service and operations we will be bringing to the table gives us confidence that we’ll stand out in the segment.
PG: What are some other locations in the Philadelphia area being scouted?
RP: We are being fairly aggressive in our approach and really are looking throughout all areas of the Philadelphia market, including dipping into southern New Jersey. We are opening locations in Connecticut and planning to bring the brand to additional cities throughout the northeast in the short term – but the long term plan is to expand the HNT Chicken brand beyond the northeast across the entire country.
PG: Will all locations be company-owned or franchises?
RP: Right now it is our plan to establish a foundation of corporate-owned locations to set the expectations and refine the model to prepare it for potential franchising in the future.
Fried chicken is having a moment (again) due in part to the popularity of Popeyes chicken sandwich, but other chicken chains are also ever-so-popular… Chik-fil-a, KFC, PDQ, among others. Not to mention non-corporate and independently-owned Philadelphia fried chicken restaurants such as Love & Honey, Redcrest, Andy’s Chicken, Wishbone, Freebyrd, etc.
Have you tried this new fried chicken chain in Philadelphia yet? Are you even remotely thrilled about another fried chicken chain in our area? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.
The Doyenne of Delicious in Philadelphia and South Jersey.