KFC parent Yum Brands Inc. is readying to launch an assault on chicken chain Chick-fil-A.
Quietly, Yum is opening a single-concept store in Arlington, Texas, on Wednesday that will sell a curated collection of chicken sandwiches, tenders, fries, drinks and frozen custard.
The restaurant, called Super Chix, claims to offer "the last true chicken sandwich." A trademark application filed Jan. 9 lists Leanne Stendell – Yum's global managing director of trademarks – as the attorney of record.
Its "food-obsessed" founders, three guys named Christophe, Nick and Jeff, "left out the junk," "used ingredients everyone can pronounce" and "decided every order would be cooked to order," according to the website.
That includes hand-squeezed lemonade, homemade croutons, hand-cut fries crisped in refined peanut oil, Sriracha sweet & sour sauce, kosher pickles and no MSG, high-fructose corn syrup or phosphates.
Yum, based in Louisville, Ky., isn't generally known as a corporation that is too concerned with healthful food. Its Taco Bell brand watched a product called Doritos Locos Tacos become its best-selling item within a year of being launched in 2012.
But Yum and other fast-food giants are facing pressure from so-called fast casual chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread Co., which tout their higher-quality and sustainably produced ingredients.
In recent years, the quick service sector has begun experimenting with more premium, healthful items and customization options.
McDonald's began featuring farm-fresh produce in its advertisements. The giant also plans to expand a build-your-own burger concept similar to rival Burger King's BK Whopper Bar idea.
KFC has introduced a slew of new products in recent years, hoping to slow a sales slide that allowed Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A to surpass its U.S. revenue in 2012.
Among the launches: boneless chicken, Go Cups for drivers and a higher-end prototype restaurant called KFC Eleven.
Earlier this month, data from research firm Technomic showed that Chick-fil-A continued to grow its lead over KFC despite having fewer restaurants.
Super Chix, whose appearance was first reported by Ad Age, isn't Yum's only test project. The company has "explored other concepts over the years and they provide interesting learnings," said spokeswoman Virginia Ferguson in an email.
The new chicken restaurant is "an exploratory concept that may in the future be considered for international purposes," she said. "It is only in its infancy stage."