Boston Market Corp., known for a quintessential American menu, is planning its first international expansion next year.
The chain, which sells ready-made rotisserie chicken meals, plans to open as many as 50 stores in the Middle East in the next five years, Chief Executive Officer George Michel, whose nickname is “The Big Chicken,” said today in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters. Boston Market, based in Golden, Colorado, is also eyeing Turkey, China and Southeast Asia, where “chicken is king,” Michel said.
Closely held Boston Market is starting to expand again after years without opening stores. The chain, which Michel says won’t sell a chicken that’s more than two hours old, is also opening new locations through licensing agreements, including a new venture on US Army bases.
Other chains, including Yum! Brands Inc.’s KFC chicken restaurant and McDonald’s Corp., have struggled in China recently after a probe into a supplier for selling expired food. There are more than 4,600 KFC locations in China that sell items such as spicy chicken rice, shrimp burgers and roasted chicken wings.
Sun Capital Partners Inc., a Boca Raton, Florida-based private-equity firm, bought Boston Market from McDonald’s in 2007, after it filed for bankruptcy in 1998. Michel took over in 2010, conducting a “Big Chicken Chat tour” with workers around the country. Those conversations yielded changes including removing an Asian-style salad and other menu items.
Boston Market, which changed its name from Boston Chicken in 1995, also sells ham, ribs and sandwiches.
Bloomberg News, edited by Hospitality Ireland