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Unit #2 of Yum’s fast-casual chicken ‘lab’ said to be ready to fly

A second outlet of what Yum! Brands calls its “experimental lab” but what many have labeled a Chick-fil-A knockoff appears to be planned for elsewhere in Dallas, where the initial test store opened in April, according to restaurant analyst Mark Kalinowski.

Yum, the parent company of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, described the first Super Chix as a place to learn about the fast-casual market and engineer new processes and menu initiatives for its other brands. Overseas, the roster is broader and extends to such unusual concepts as Little Sheep, a hot-pot Asian concept, and East Rising, a Chinese food outlet that operates only in China.

Super Chix was not intended to be a prototype for domestic development, the company insisted at the time the first unit came to light.

Kalinowski stopped at the store and reported on his visit in a communication this morning to customers who follow him as the restaurant analyst for Janney Capital Markets. He noted that the outlet was reminiscent of a Chick-fil-A, which has dethroned KFC as the leader in the quick-service chicken market.

Yum has insisted that Super Chix was not a copy of a Chick-fil-A. Although it features chicken sandwiches like Chick-fil-A’s, the menu also showcases an extensive line of frozen custards, which are not offered by the rival chain.

Although Chick-fil-A does not fit the usual definition of fast-casual, it’s often lumped into that category because of the quality of its food.

Kalinowski said his visit did not cast any new light on Yum’s plans for Super Chix. “It might someday mean a more widespread domestic rollout of Super Chix… or not,” he wrote.

But, he added, “we believe a second Super Chix restaurant is already scheduled to open in the not-too-distant future in north Dallas.”

Yum has several other new concepts in initial tests or the planning stages, including U.S. Taco Co., a fast-casual taco outlet; Banh Shop, a banh mi sandwich store; and several riffs on KFC, including one under development in the United Kingdom that’s code-named K2.

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