Spring Chicken, a Fancy Fried Chicken Joint, Opening in Fort Lauderdale

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Broward County is about to get to jump on the nationwide fancy fried chicken train. Spring Chicken (2400 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale), by Miami-based 50 Eggs Hospitality, is about to bring Yardbird Southern Table & Bar's award-winning chicken to Broward in fast-casual format.

Slated to open in the first or second week of March 2016, the eatery will feature a selection of fried and grilled poultry, salads, biscuits, and other baked goods — including what CEO John Kunkel says is an impressive scone. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the eatery will feature made-to-order items like a breakfast ham and cheese biscuit as well as grab-and-go dishes. Check averages should be in the $12 to $14 range for food.

Milkshakes, house-made lemonade, local craft beers, and affordable wines will be offered. Coffee from a local partner will be served. Same goes for fresh juice. The goal, says Kunkel, is a quick-serve concept that's "Yardbird meets Shake Shack."

The concept already has four locations in the books. Coral Gables should open by the first week of January, followed by South Beach later in the month. Lauderdale is up next, then Miami International Airport's North Terminal sometime in the spring. The airport locale will be the only one to offer a full bar, because as Kunkel says, "Everyone likes to drink while traveling." Each store will differ slightly in design to reflect the local area, but they will all have a similar industrial farmhouse look with recurring elements. Expect to see reclaimed wood, welded iron and metals, weathered paint, butcher block tables, and leather booths. 

Kunkel and his team have been working on the concept for the past couple of years. It started with a more country vibe and has morphed into a younger, modern atmosphere over time. Shortly after Yardbird's success, they toyed with the idea of a quick-serve chicken joint but sort of let it fall by the wayside while working on other projects. With three kids of his own, however, Kunkel realized that fast-casual is often his preferred style of dining: "I know we like to eat like that a lot, but we like higher quality."

This is not 50 Eggs' first foray into the quick-serve format. The group also runs the ever-popular Lime Fresh Mexican Grill. It has jumped back and forth between the counter-order format and what it calls "approachable fine dining," but Kunkel and his team are excited to bring high-end fried chicken with lower price points to Miami-Dade and Broward.

In the past year, the dish has taken off on a nationwide spree with the opening of David Chang's Fuku (hailed for his take on a fried chicken sandwich), the introduction of a limited-edition poultry sammie at Shake Shack, an expansion of Philadelphia's Korean chicken and doughnut joint Federal Donuts, and more. 50 Eggs' concept may be opening a bit later, but with plans laid out — and a damned good recipe in their back pocket — Kunkel and his team are set to carve out South Florida's market before anyone else can get in. "It's a wonderful thing that [fried chicken] caught fire," says Kunkel. "It's nice to see, at least, my instincts were correct and we're on the same path as a lot of people. I'm happy to be introducing fast-casual fried chicken to South Florida."

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