Opening on London’s Wardour Street in May, the second iteration is being dubbed CHIK’N v.2, with owners Carl Clarke and David Wolanski promising a more coherent approach.
Despite the initially successful launch of CHIK’N on Baker Street back in 2017, the pair admit to having struggled to get to grips with the venture, saying it was close to failure.
“Let’s be honest, in the beginning we were pretty rubbish, and we got a fair bit of it wrong,” says Clarke.
“It was as if Specsavers done fried chicken. We didn’t know what we were doing, as CHIK’N is totally different to a traditional restaurant model we knew.”
Clarke and Wolanski, who originally founded hipster fried-chicken restaurant Chick’n’Sours, created CHIK’N as a higher quality alternative to more mainstream fast-food chicken shops, with an eye to rolling out the concept. However, the pair say that opening in an area already populated by the likes of KFC and Nando’s, and the struggles with a non-chef skilled, young workforce almost saw the concept fail.
“The brand didn’t really feel like ours,” says Clarke.
“But we’ve worked hard to create a menu and identity packed with personality, attitude, big flavours, and good sourcing.”
The pair had intended to open a second CHIK’N in Islington last year, but changed it to a Chick’n’Sours, stalling any potential rollout of the fast food brand.
Now the business is back on track, with the new Soho site set to offer a similar menu to that found at the Baker Street branch, but with some new additions. These include the spicy CHIK’N Chop sandwich, served with ‘samurai’ sauce. The duo hope that by dialling up the flavours, the restaurant will more closely reflect the Chick’n’Sours brand.
“It’s been an emotional journey, but now we know better,” says Clarke.
“This is fast food not rushed food. This is future fast food.”