Tablet Business

KFC parent Yum tests new chicken restaurant in Arlington

As KFC struggles in the U.S., parent company Yum Brands is testing a new chicken restaurant, Super Chix, and has chosen a site in central Arlington for the test.

A website for the restaurant, on the southeast corner of West Park Row Drive and South Cooper Street, shows a menu that seems positioned as a more premium offering than KFC, in line with the trend toward foods people believe are better. The fairly simple menu lists a chicken sandwich, chicken tenders, fries and custard. Toppings include kosher pickles, jalapeños and sweet pickles, and sauces include smoky honey pepper and Sriracha sweet and sour.

The website also says, “Our chicken is marinated daily in our kitchen, then hand-breaded and cooked in 100% refined peanut oil. No MSG, HFCS or phosphates.” It refers to its sandwich as “The Last True Chicken Sandwich.”

Virginia Ferguson, a spokeswoman for Yum, based in Louisville, Ky, downplayed the suggestion that the restaurant was being tested for the U.S. market.

“This is an exploratory concept that may in the future be considered for international purposes,” Ferguson said in an email. She added that the company will be exploring other concepts for international purposes soon, such as a “Banh Shop” that sells Asian subs.

The Arlington location is in a neighborhood shopping center across the street from Arlington High School.

Stephen Polanski, a senior vice president at Fort Worth-based Buxton, a company that works with retailers to find locations, said the central Arlington test site could be good because it’s in a neighborhood with broad demographics. And it’s close to the University of Texas at Arlington and the high school, he said.

Moreover, if the restaurant is going to compete with Chick-fil-A, that chain has four locations within 5 miles of the Super Chix, he said.

KFC ceded its position as the No. 1 chicken chain to Chick-fil-A in 2012 in terms of sales volume, according to food industry researcher Technomic. Although KFC has many more stores than Chick-fil-A, its sales have declined despite new menu items, such as boneless chicken pieces. Last year, sales at established KFC stores in the U.S. declined 5 percent.

KFC had about 4,500 U.S. stores last year.

Yum has also been testing a higher-end concept called “KFC eleven” that does not mention the company founder, Col. Harland Sanders.

Staff writer Sandra Baker contributed to this report.