Chef Ashley Christensen, who has gained national acclaim as the chef of Poole’s Diner, opened her first BB’s Crispy Chicken this past weekend. The fast casual concept has been in development for more than two years and marks Christensen’s first restaurant outside of downtown Raleigh.
The renowned chef partnered with MDO Holdings to fully develop the burgeoning chain. The first location, in Raleigh’s Midtown East Shopping Center, opened Saturday, October 30th to a line that wrapped around the building. The restaurant sold more than 1,400 sandwiches over the weekend and was even forced to close early on Sunday to restock sandwiches, signature milkshakes and cheese curds. The restaurant reopened this week, again to large crowds that again resulted in more than 700 sandwiches sold each day. All of this has been from in-store sales as BB’s has yet to activate it’s online or app ordering due to the high demand inside the restaurant.
Christensen and MDO Holdings already have two more locations under construction, one in Durham’s University Hill and one in West Cary’s Parkside Town Commons. The challenges of the pandemic gave Christensen and team more time to fine-tune the full menu, leadership team, and overall concept.
“From the start, we have wanted to highlight the overall greatness of the chicken sandwich. I also knew we wanted to share this with the world, so it brought a completely different level of focus for me and necessity for sensational flavor profiles throughout the menu. I was so focused on getting this right that I moved a frying set-up to my front porch so that every time I had an idea, I could simply go fire it up and try another iteration. We probably tried over 2,000 chicken sandwiches before landing on this final recipe. I really believe what we are about to unveil is greatness,” says co-owner, Ashley Christensen.
The menu features five signature sandwiches and four different hot sandwiches – skillfully spiced by house made sauces that each feature a different TABASCO sauce. All sandwiches are served on a locally sourced brioche bun and can include any of the 13 housemade sauces. The sides include sweet potato waffle fries, sea-salt brined french fries and North Carolina’s Ashe County cheese curds that feature gluten-free panko breading. The Crunchy Dunkers, bigger than your traditional nugget, also utilize the gluten-free panko breading. Grilled chicken options are also be available for all sandwiches and dunkers.
In addition to the amazing sandwiches, sides and dunkers, there are two expertly-crafted salad options as well as two wraps—one of which is the signature “Pimento Toastie” that can even feature crunchy or grilled dunkers inside the melty goodness.
“It has been an extreme pleasure to work with Ashley. Throughout the process our focus has been getting this right at every level – from the chicken sandwich, the sides all the way to the back-end technology and seamless ordering process across all possible platforms. We’ve put a team together that matches our lofty vision, and we are thrilled to unveil this concept to the Triangle,” says MDO Holdings CEO, Michael Olander Jr.
BB’s boasts an easy-to-use app for both iPhone and Android as well as a seamless online ordering system. Inside the restaurant, in addition to ordering from a classic register, you can order from your table by scanning a special QR code that denotes your location.
Christensen went on to say, “Working with Michael and the MDO Holdings team has been the perfect partnership. We’ve had our fair share of hurdles in the last 19 months, but we always remained focused on opening a fast casual concept that we think can change how people view the quick serve industry.
Two key hires were made to help properly develop and guide the overall BB’s brand. Derek Ryoti, the long-time Director of Operations for AC Restaurants, was hired in 2020 as the Director of Operations for BB’s Crispy Chicken. Also, Jeff Saudo, a mentor of Christensen’s and former Wake Tech Culinary professor, has been hired as the Director of Culinary Hospitality. Both bring an in-depth restaurant background that spans both fast casual and fine dining.
The team also consulted with renowned Human Resources consultant, Denise Leerkes, to help craft inclusive policies and procedures. Additionally, tip sharing should ensure that all team members earn $15 per hour or higher in addition to a benefits package that includes PTO for all full-time team members. Through the first week, the tip share program has each hourly employee earning more than $20 per hour.