Why did the chicken cross the road?

Given the phenomenal success of KFC and Nando’s, it’s always been something of a conundrum as to why there hasn’t been a greater proliferation of chicken-based dining offers. That is now changing – particularly in London – with a flock of new concepts.

Despite the recent food processing health scare about the chlorine-washing of chickens, it’s a meat which is perceived to be healthier than beef, lamb or pork. So as we’ve developed more health-conscious eating habits, it’s not surprising that the demand for chicken meals has increased.

Soho House Group led the charge when it opened its rotisserie concept, Chicken Shop, in Kentish Town and has expanded into a number of similar locations.

Bird, Mother Clucker, Billy & the Chicks and Butchies are among the new entrants to the sector as pop-ups become permanent fixtures. As with the rest of the restaurant market, operators are having to work hard to capture customers so there is a heavy emphasis on creating playful, lively and engaging environment.

Chick ‘n‘ Sours is a good example. From its outlets in Seven Dials and Haggerston, its menu combines the funny (‘Disco Wings – naked, sticky or hot’) with the downright exotic (‘K-POP – Korean Fried Thigh, Gochujang Mayo, Chilli Vinegar & Asian Slaw’).

Meanwhile, over in Baker Street, their sister brand Chik’N is demonstrating the same sort of ‘punk’ credentials as craft brewing counterparts like BrewDog and Beavertown. Their website proclaims ‘Meet your friendly local chicken anarchists’ and there’s a strong emphasis on the provenance of their free-range Somerset chickens.

Like other new entrants to the eating and dining scene, these chicken concepts could well have timed their arrival well. We’ve seen a slowing in the extraordinary pace of expansion in the restaurant sector and this has opened some opportunities for newcomers.

There are now all sorts of reasons for the chicken to cross the road…