Fla. chicken chain scouts Maryland for expansion

June 04, 1994|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Sun Staff Writer

Kenny Rogers Roasters, the Florida chicken chain founded by the country crooner, plans to open 15 locations in Maryland by the end of 1995.

The company has 147 outlets now, and plans to have 500 by the end of 1995, company spokesman Barry Epstein said.

The chain's chief executive is John Y. Brown, who co-founded Kentucky Fried Chicken with Col. Harlan Sanders and later was governor of Kentucky.

"It's like the McDonalds of rotisserie chicken," Mr. Epstein said. Mr. Brown owns about 40 percent of the privately held company, with 20 percent of the stock belonging to Mr. Rogers.

Andrew S. Howard, the company's senior vice president for marketing and real estate, said the local stores all will be owned by the company.

"We're excited about the Baltimore market. We look for an upscale, higher income and most of the areas we're looking at fit that demographic very well," he said.

The company will join a chicken fight already under way in the fast-food business, as traditional fast-food chains like Roy Rogers and KFC join slightly more expensive Kenny Rogers and Boston Chicken Inc. of Naperville, Ill., and local entrepreneur Jonathan Soudry, who owns chicken restaurants in Pikesville and Towson.

Mr. Soudry's company will open its first franchise outlet in Parkville this summer.

Boston Chicken, founded in 1985, has 306 outlets nationwide and 10 in Maryland, said Betty Church, an aide to Boston Chicken Chief Financial Officer Mark W. Stephens. The company plans 14 more Maryland outlets this year, working with joint venture partners.

All the chicken chains have been trying to ride longer-term trends toward lower consumption of red meat.

Mr. Howard said an average meal at Kenny Rogers costs about $5.25 for a half-chicken and two side dishes.

Mr. Epstein said the restaurants will play Kenny Rogers videos so customers can be entertained while they eat.

Mr. Howard said the company's competitive edge is that it cooks the chicken over a wood fire, prompting the slogan, "It's the wood that makes it good."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.