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Huey Magoo’s Journey to Chicken Tender Stardom

Howard’s restaurant experience taught him to ask one more question before buying: Does the market need more Huey Magoo?

Or as he puts it, “Is there room for a tiny little chain to compete with the Chick-fil-A of the World, Raising Cane’s, and Zaxby’s?” Combined, the three chicken bars (although Chick-fil-A, versus the other two, are more sandwich-focused) came out in 2021 with 2,732, 567, and 908 units, respectively. There’s also Guthrie’s, a 50-year-old brand with 42 stores across the Southeast and Midwest and 35 in development. told Guthrie CEO Joe Kelly Guthrie, who is the son of the company’s founder QSR In December 2020, chicken finger restaurants accounted for approximately $4-5 billion a year. However, he felt it could reach $25 billion within the next two decades. Maybe sooner.

Howard has similar thoughts. “I think there is room for all of us,” he says. “Those who do a great job with the recipe, with the hospitality, with the processes, those are the ones who will stand tall.”

For Huey Magoo’s, Howard just had to experiment with the product to envision how he might fit into this flourish. The quality speaks for itself, he says. But back to the “Wingstop model” growth piece, it was mostly a real estate bracket. When Howard got the series, he envisioned it mirroring the Wingstop inline, strip-center, and heavy-duty truck business.

And the strategy worked out of the gate. However, seeing Chick-fil-A and the aforementioned category leaders ramp up development, it became apparent that the “tender men” were thriving with push. Huey Magoo decided to add the option, in addition to pre-capture windows. And sure enough, the first thing we did was in a little town in Georgia called Loganville [January 2020] It was over $3 million in the first year,” Howard says. He’s achieved numbers we never thought we could achieve. So we keep raising the bar.”

The drive-thru helped Huey Magoo develop a variety of options with “five or six different models” for operators to take advantage of: the original inline-less version; the ends of the centers, without or with one window; second-generation standalone architectures, which have turned everything from Pizza Huts into stick-and-shake boxes; and terrestrial developments.

Howard believes Huey Magoo’s has an edge over some of its peers, who are unlikely to offer in-line service anytime soon. “Franchiseers love it a lot,” he says. “They can pick and choose how to develop.”

In mid-April, Huey Magoo opened its 23rd location. The Pearl, Mississippi, store is 3,400 square feet, with indoor and outdoor seating and a drive-in area. It is the second of 20 Huey Magoo performances intended for Mississippi under the Golden Corral franchise and Stacy Powell.

Based on what’s written on “the drawing board” today, Howard says, Huey Magoo’s has sold 225 locations. There are about 30 different franchise groups that make up this pool. Huey Magoo’s sells minimum three-store deals.

Howard isn’t one to shrug off projections, but he’s seen how franchise growth can feed itself if sales support it. Operators generally start slowly and gain. Right now, Huey Magoo’s 2022 movie is shaping up to be pretty ambitious on its own as it charts in 30 places or so. This would more than double the current footprint.

Signed new deals to open eight stores in Fort Myers and Naples, Florida, and five surrounding Macon, Georgia.

Also, Huey Magoo partnered with Boyd Gaming Corporation to open it in Las Vegas, at Boyd’s Fremont Hotel & Casino, by the end of the year.

The 225 sold stores are expanding across nine states – Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Ohio and Nevada.