What: The third UK site for fast casual format Slim Chickens. The restaurant started life in the US and specialises in chicken tenders and wings.
Who: Slim Chickens was founded in 2003 by Tom Gordon, Greg Smart and Ryan Hodson in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The business has grown to over 60 sites, some company-owned and some franchises. The majority of locations are in the US but Slim Chickens also has a handful of restaurants in the Middle East. UK master franchisee Boparan Holdings - operator of Ed’s Easy Diner, Giraffe, Harry Ramsden’s and Cinnamon Collection - opened two sites last year, one in Marylebone and one in Cardiff.
The vibe: Boparan has put its latest Slim Chickens into the prime Old Compton Street site that for the last 30 years has been home to the inaugural Ed’s Easy Diner (it was founded by Barry Margolis way back in 1987). It hasn’t been plain sailing for Ed’s Easy Diner of late - after expanding at considerable pace, the national diner chain collapsed into administration in 2016 just before the sale to Boparan - and the decision to shutter its best known site doesn’t augur well for the brand. Previously a classic US diner setup with stools arranged around a counter, the site has been completely overhauled and now comprises a large fast food-style service counter downstairs with around 40-covers upstairs (food is ordered at counter but served at table). The space is bright and modern with a basic fit-out that’s reminiscent of other US fast casual imports including Five Guys, Smashburger and Chipotle.
Slim Chickens Soho's upstairs dining area
The food: The menu is tight with just two types of chicken on offer (tenders and wings). Customers can opt for tenders on their own, tenders in a sandwich, or wings. Sandwiches start at £5.95 and most meals cost between £9 and £11 including bottomless soft drinks. It’s a safe bet the chicken is being supplied by Ranjit Singh Boparan’s 2 Sisters Food Group, a specialist in poultry (brands include Bernard Matthews) and the UK’s largest food company by turnover.
Five tenders, Texas toast, fries
And another thing: Slim Chickens is said to be going down well with the UK market and more sites are planned for this year. Some other Boparan restaurant brands may be converted, but BigHospitality understands that the expansion will be led by new site acquisitions.