Chef and TV celebrity Guy Fieri is teaming up with Planet Hollywood founder Robert Earl to parlay their single-unit fast-casual chicken tenders collaboration, Chicken Guy, into a chain.
The partners say a second unit will open this spring in the third-floor food hall of the Aventura Mall in Miami. Like its predecessor, the branch will feature grilled and fried chicken fingers and 22 sauces. The strips will be offered in sandwiches, on skewers and as bowl toppings, in addition to being served just as fingers.
A number of signature menu items will be associated with Fieri, star of hit cable show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Those branded items include Chicken Guy’s Fries, which are flavored with a spice blend tied to Fieri.
The first Chicken Guy opened in the Disney Springs retail and dining complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., where Earl is based. His other endeavors include Earl of Sandwich, a fast-casual chain; Buca di Beppo, a full-service, family-style Italian concept; and Bertucci’s, a full-service pizza and pasta chain that’s concentrated in the Boston area.
Fieri is tied by name to seven restaurants, mostly in the Eastern third of the United States. They include Guy Fieri’s Baltimore Kitchen & Bar in Baltimore, Guy Fieri’s Chophouse in Atlantic City, N.J., and Guy Fieri’s Philly Kitchen & Bar in the outskirts of Philadelphia.
Fieri’s popularity with TV viewers and consumers doesn’t extend to restaurant reviewers. His now-closed restaurant in New York City, Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, was slammed consistently by critics. But that didn’t stop the operation from generating annual sales of roughly $17 million before it was shuttered at the end of 2017.
Earl was an early proponent of what’s now called eatertainment, the big-box restaurants such as Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe that flourished in the 1990s. More recently, he has focused on fixing and expanding distressed concepts such as Buca and Bertucci’s.
He has similar growth plans for Chicken Guy. “With our second location, we are on our way to open Chicken Guy locations across the country,” he said in announcing the Miami opening.