50 Eggs' fast-casual chicken joint., formerly named Llewellyn's Chicken & Biscuits, has a new name and an opening date.
Spring Chicken is set to open its first location fall 2015, across from University of Miami, taking up the old Miami's Best Pizza location at 1514 S. Dixie Hwy. in Coral Gables.
The 3,800-square-foot restaurant will feature the same fried chicken and biscuits made popular at 50 Eggs' Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in South Beach. The recipes for the chicken, biscuits, and sides are all inspired by 50 Eggs' chief executive officer John Kunkel's grandmother.
The original working name for the chicken palace was also a nod to Kunkel's granny, Llewellyn, who would brine her birds for 27 hours before covering them in a cayenne peppered flour and frying them up. At Yardbird, grandma's chicken gets served with hot sauce-infused Tupelo honey for additional zing. In a 2011 review of Yardbird, New Times' Lee Klein called the dish, "impeccable fried chicken with crunchy, grease-free coating over juicy meat."
Spring Chicken will specialize in modern interpretations of the fried chicken and biscuits, along with Southern-inspired sides in a fast-casual setting.
In addition to the Coral Gables location, a second Spring Chicken will open at Miami International Airport late 2015/early 2016.
Although there's not yet word on any more Spring Chickens in the works, expect this concept to grow. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published six months ago that talks about chefs taking a stab at fast-casual enterprises (termed the Chipotle effect), Kunkel said he wants to do for fried chicken what Shake Shack has done for burgers. "If you're going to do something, specialize, and do it better than everyone else."
John Kunkel, of course, is no stranger to the fast-casual dining business. In 2004, the restaurateur sold his first Miami Beach restaurant, Taste Bakery & Cafe, and started Lime Fresh Mexican Grill. The concept of offering well-priced burritos caught on and led to a major expansion of locations throughout Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Just shy of a decade later, Ruby Tuesday purchased Lime for $24 million and Kunkel and his 50 Eggs Restaurant Group opened Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, Swine, and Khong River House, which closed earlier this year (with the promise of re-opening in Miami).
With the opening of Spring Chicken, the restaurant maven might just be trying to strike gold again — in the form of golden brown fried chicken.