Emerging Brands

Starbird Chicken gets a $12M investment to fuel its growth

The tech-enabled fast casual, which has nine locations, nabbed a $4 million cash infusion less than a year ago from a group led by industry veteran Greg Dollarhyde.
Starbird Chicken
Photo courtesy of Starbird Chicken

Starbird Chicken—a tech-driven, fast-casual chicken sandwich concept—has secured a $12 million investment it plans to use to open more restaurants and ghost kitchens, as well as launching franchising, the chain announced Monday.

The funding round was led by private-equity firm KarpReilly. The investment comes less than a year after Starbird secured a $4 million cash infusion led by industry veteran Greg Dollarhyde, one of the concept’s original funders.

Starbird was founded in San Francisco in 2016 by the restaurant consultancy The Culinary Edge. It now has nine locations, with four more openings planned this year.

“Over the last 18 months, consumers’ needs and wants have changed dramatically,” Ryan Greene, a principal at KarpReilly, said in a statement. “They’re interacting with restaurants in a different way and have become even more particular about what they eat and how they purchase it. Starbird has clearly demonstrated it can deliver premium, high-quality food and an unrivaled customer experience even in the most difficult operating environment.”

Starbird opened its first ghost kitchen about a year ago and plans to use the investment to further those operations. It operates a number of virtual brands, including Starbird Wings, Starbird Salads and the new plant-based iteration Gardenbird. The virtual brands “are trending at double digits of company-wide sales” for the third quarter, the company said in a statement. The chain also has stadium and airport locations.

Starbird said its year-to-date same-store sales growth is up 26% over 2020 and 75% on a two-year basis.

“This year has been a phenomenal one for Starbird and this capital infusion is evidence that our mission to reimagine what fast food can and should be has potential for exponential growth,” CEO and founder Aaron Noveshen said in a statement.

The brand calls itself “super-premium fast food,” with a menu of antibiotic-free chicken coated in a gluten-free mixture and fried in rice bran oil.


Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Brands shift their attention back to smaller operators

The Bottom Line: While plenty of franchises like Subway still want large-scale franchisees, there is a movement to keep their sizes down.


Should Cracker Barrel get out of the gift shop business?

Reality Check: The retail component of the family dining concept drew off sales and profits during the brand's most recent quarter. Maybe it's time to leave the shops out of future Cracker Barrels.


Wendy's, whose chairman is an activist, may be getting an activist

The Bottom Line: Activist investor Blackwells apparently plans to nominate “several directors” to the burger chain’s board, according to Reuters.


More from our partners