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Marketing

The story behind 'Sunday Side Chicks,' a meme that may well become a restaurant

The idea for the still-in-development concept grew out of a tweet poking fun at Chick-fil-A's policy of closing on Sundays.
This meme-based brand is scheduled to launch next year. / Photograph courtesy of Workweek Inc.

If restaurants can be built around the popularity of, say, a celebrity, a sports team or a YouTube personality, then why not a meme?

That’s a thesis posed by media company Workweek Inc., in Austin, Texas, which is fixing to do just that next year. And they’re looking to do it in a way that takes a playful poke at the hugely popular but never-open-on-Sunday Chick-fil-A.

First came the meme, which sparked a great deal of twittering, especially among Chick-fil-A fans frustrated by the Atlanta-based chain’s firm stand on keeping restaurants closed for a Sabbath-day of rest.

The Tweet came from the franchising analyst known as the Wolf of Franchises, who does not use his real name, but has a highly engaged following, with close to 30,000 subscribers to his newsletter.

Response to the meme inspired Workweek CEO Adam Ryan to consider the possibilities.

So the media company created a website around the branding Sunday Side Chicks, and took to social media to crowdsource the idea, creating a contest asking followers to vote on the zip code where a brand like this could launch. The plan is to develop a restaurant concept that will debut in summer 2023.

Sunday Side Chicks implies it would live as a food truck that would park near Chick-fil-A units and serve guests on Sundays. But, in reality, the logistics of an actual truck would be problematic, and a potential target for Chick-fil-A’s legal team, Ryan noted.

Instead, Ryan is looking toward the MrBeast Burger model, a virtual concept that was created in partnership with Virtual Dining Concepts around the YouTube celebrity.

Like MrBeast Burger, Sunday Side Chicks could live as a virtual brand out of ghost kitchens, Ryan said, and not just on Sundays. A food truck could also serve as a promotional tool in some markets, but not as a functioning kitchen.

Nowadays, it’s so much easier to create restaurants via ghost kitchens and outsourcing operations, said Ryan. “You can create a massively large restaurant brand with little insight of having deep knowledge of a kitchen.”

Workweek, of course, is planning to bring in a partner to develop the food operations side of the business, but he is not ready to say yet who that might be.

He noted that Night Inc., the talent management company that represents MrBeast, and which this week announced a $100 million investment firm to build consumer brands around internet talent, is also based in Austin.

Ryan said Workweek brings to the table a certain expertise with marketing and distribution, “and having an audience with great affinity, and we think people struggle with that.”

Sunday Side Chicks potentially taps an audience that both loves and hates Chick-fil-A.

The website states that 7% of proceeds will support LGBTQ+ causes, because “everyone is welcome at the church of chicken,” a clear dig at Chick-fil-A former CEO Dan Cathy’s public comments opposing same-sex marriage and the chain’s funding of conservative charities with anti-gay positioning.

Ryan also sees the potential of engaging LGBTQ+ communities for kickstarting campaigns in markets where the Sunday Side Chicks could operate.

“We’re embracing the fun brand side of it while producing great chicken,” said Ryan.

Much is yet to be determined. And, of course, if Sunday Side Chicks comes to fruition, it will not only be competing for Chick-fil-A fans, but also the many other chicken concepts, both brick-and-mortar and virtual, offering chicken sandwiches and tenders.

And with MrBeast making the jump from virtual to brick-and-mortar after reaching 1,000 virtual outlets and surpassing $100 million in revenue, the world of internet personalities as restaurant brand engines is about to get a lot more crowded.

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