Dallas-based Cowboy Chicken is poised for significant growth through franchising and corporate expansion. Kip Kolow, co-founder of Boston Market, is now working as Chief Strategy Officer of the wood-fired rotisserie restaurant chain, joining forces with president and CEO Sean Kennedy to strengthen systems and put processes in place to expand the fast casual brand across the country.
“Cowboy Chicken is a differentiated concept – one of only two national rotisserie chicken brands,” says Kolow, who co-founded the Boston Market chain in 1985. “That means we stand out in a sea of burgers, pizza, Asian and burrito chains that have overproliferated, and we have a great opportunity with lots of white space available for growth. Our management team is getting stronger, and we are preparing to expand.”
Kolow and Kennedy first met at an industry tradeshow in 2013, instantly connecting over their shared experience with national rotisserie chicken chains. They built a friendship over the ensuing years, so when Kennedy decided in 2017 that it was time for Cowboy Chicken to assess and refine its business in preparation for expansion, he knew who to call.
“Kip is a master of details and operating systems,” says Kennedy. “He also co-created one of the first from-scratch fast casual brands, and I knew Cowboy Chicken would benefit greatly from his expertise in setting up scalable systems for multi-unit companies.”
“Working with Cowboy Chicken is feeding my soul,” says Kolow. “I have such respect for the way Sean treats employees and guests and his commitment to maintaining the integrity of the company culture. This brand, where the food is as honest as a handshake, is a rare find.”
Kolow joined Cowboy Chicken as a consultant in the summer of 2017, spending six months reviewing all facets of the brand’s business and beginning to build a framework for real growth. Named Chief Strategy Officer in January 2018, Kolow and Kennedy have now created and begun implementing a five-year plan for expansion that includes scalable systems for food production, an improved franchise communication system and infrastructure, accounting protocols and more strategic real estate initiatives.
Looking ahead, Kennedy and Kolow plan to continue attracting area developers and multi-unit operators. They are focused on leveraging technology to better understand the business and customer behavior, as well as developing Cowboy Chicken’s robust database of customer information to identify ideal locations, strengthen logistics for food distribution and new store opening and development, and market the brand more efficiently.
What began in 1981 as a single restaurant in Dallas has now grown into over 25 company-owned and franchised restaurants located throughout Texas and in Louisiana, Georgia, Oklahoma, Iowa, South Dakota and California. For more than 35 years, Cowboy Chicken has been serving all-natural, hormone-free rotisserie chickens that are hand-seasoned in store, marinated for 24 hours and then slowly roasted for two hours over a real wood-burning fire. Other dishes include signature sour cream tomatillo chicken enchiladas, abundant scratch-made sides such as Twice Baked Potaters, Baked Mac & Cheese, Ranchero Beans and seasonal cobblers baked in-house daily.
Cowboy Chicken’s hearty and healthy dishes are available during lunch and dinner for dine-in, take out, catering and delivery. On-the-go diners can order on the Cowboy Chicken app, available through the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, which allows guests to order ahead, pay with their phone at checkout and earn rewards.