Yardbird Founder Plans Four Fast-Casual Fried Chicken Spots for 2016

Spring Chicken, 50 Eggs boss John Kunkel’s fast-casual fried bird concept, is planning four South Florida restaurants next year, a spokeswoman for the company told New Times.

The four locations, first reported by the South Florida Business Journal last week include the former spots of Lime on Alton Road and Miami’s Best Pizza on South Dixie Highway across from the University of Miami. There will also be a Broward restaurant east of Wilton Manors and one at Miami International Airport.

No word yet on the breadth of the menu, though Kunkel told the Business Journal the fledgling operation will share recipes with his Yardbird flagship. One possibility, however, is a fried chicken sandwiches Kunkel recently posted on social media.

Me and @cristianrcuevas testing sandwiches for @eatspringchicken if you love @ybsouthern get ready!

A photo posted by John Kunkel (@50eggsjk) on

It comes at the perfect moment when chicken sandwiches are being launched at Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack and Momofuku boss David Chang’s Fuku. There are a handful of decent variations around town, including GastroPod’s gochujang-marinated crispy chicken sandwich and the Chicken Cordon Jew from Josh’s Deli in Surfside.

Yet it also seems certain now that Kunkel is pivoting back to fast casual after a few years or trying to move to upscale concepts. It’s where he made he first succeeded, selling off Mexican chain Lime to Ruby Tuesday in 2012 for $24 million. Since then he’s opened high-profile spots like Yardbird, Coral Gables’ Swine, and Lincoln Road’s now-shuttered Khong River House. All at one time or another had high-profile chefs like Danny Grant and Jeff McInnis overseeing the kitchen.

There are no plans to franchise Spring Chicken, though Kunkel told the Business Journal he’s looking to grow it beyond South Florida. Better hurry. Shake Shack’s IPO earlier this year netted the company more than $100 million. That buys a lot of birds. 

For more follow Zach on Twitter or Instagram.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson