National expansion is on the menu for Kansas City-fried fast-casual hotspot Mother Clucker.
But the chicken with a cult following has one hurdle in front of it — getting to the other side of COVID-19, said Derrick Foster.
“Right before the pandemic hit we got approved to become a national franchise,” Foster, the founder and owner, said of the popular eatery’s momentum and ways it was stalled by the onset of the ongoing health crisis.
“What I’ve learned is to be ready for anything. We were talking to a lot of people who were interested in buying franchises,” he said of the brand, which offers hungry diners locally sourced “Nashville Hot” chicken. “It could be the new Golden Arches.”
Click here to check out Mother Clucker’s menu.
Conversations around expansion have slowly resumed alongside operations at Mother Clucker, Foster said, noting the restaurant is set to resume indoor dining Friday in the Crossroads Arts District.
“Moving forward, I’m just curious if we’re still going to get the same foot traffic,” he said of the restaurant’s prime location within the Parlor food hall, which is expected to reopen its bars and living room spaces Friday and was also temporarily crippled by the pandemic.
“They drive a lot of traffic. They’re very helpful with the tenants. We had mentioned curbside to them and they didn’t want to mess with it, so they just shut everything down and decided to wait it out,” he said, appreciative of Mother Clucker’s relationship with Parlor and offering respect for how its management handled the pandemic.
“I get it. They had to lay off their staff and they’re just now starting to come back. … They gave us the groundwork for who we are today.”
Click here to keep up with Parlor and announcements on the reopening of its kitchens.
The shutdown and lack of curbside service ultimately saw Mother Clucker lay off staff in both of its locations — its second housed at Parlor in Oklahoma City — and furlough both of its managers.
The operation reopened for takeout orders earlier this month — after offering at-home Mother Clucker breading and spice kits to supplement lost income during the peak of COVID shutdowns — and has since re-hired all of its laid-off team members, Foster said.
Standard pandemic-era operating procedures will be in place when the window lifts over the restaurant’s lunch counter — complete with masked servers and hand sanitizer.
The reopening is a sign of encouragement for Foster, he said, eager to see how opening day plays out for the food hall, which typically is bursting with diners.
“Carry out and delivery has been very strong, so I’m not too nervous,” he said of what the future holds for Mother Clucker and the potential of a second economic shutdown.
“I’m just anxious to sell this first franchise.”