Every chain from McDonald's to Buffalo Wild Wings wants to be Chick-fil-A
- Chains including McDonald's, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Cracker Barrel are trying to get into the chicken sandwich business.
- McDonald's franchisees reportedly sent a letter to management, calling for the addition of a new chicken sandwich to the menu, in part because Chick-fil-A's "results demonstrate the power of chicken," according to CNBC
- Buffalo Wild Wings and Cracker Barrel are also rolling out new chicken sandwiches.
- Chick-fil-A is now the third-largest chain in the US by sales, with $10.46 billion in American systemwide sales.
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Every restaurant in America wants to be Chick-fil-A.
Sure, they don't want to directly copy the chicken chain's unique business model. But, increasingly chains have noticed that Chick-fil-A is thriving - and they want to get in on the fried-chicken action.In 2018, Chick-fil-A made $10.46 billion in American systemwide sales, making it the third-largest chain in the US by sales. On average, a Chick-fil-A location brought in $4.6 million in annual sales in 2018, up from $4.2 million in 2017 - more than any other fast-food chain in America. The average McDonald's location made $2.8 million.
Now, McDonald's franchisees are reportedly demanding that a chicken sandwich that can compete with Chick-fil-A's be added to the menu. CNBC reported this week that a group of McDonald's franchisees are calling for the fast-food giant to make developing a new chicken sandwich the chain's "top priority."
"Chick Fil A's results demonstrate the power of chicken," the National Owners Association board said in an email obtained by CNBC's Amelia Lucas.
It seems that McDonald's corporate team is already considering the heightened demand for chicken. The chain is planning to launch the Spicy BBQ Sandwich and Spicy BBQ Glazed Tenders in mid-September, according to leaked documents shared with Business Insider.
McDonald's isn't the only chain adding new chicken options to the menu.
In August, Buffalo Wild Wings is rolling out two new fried-chicken sandwiches: the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich and the Southern Chicken Sandwich.
Paul Brown, CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings parent company Inspire Brands, told Business Insider in April that the fried-chicken sandwiches being developed were better than any rival's - including Chick-fil-A.
"The one we tested is going to be much better than anything out there," Brown said. "That's the bar! I think we're going to win."
In April, Cracker Barrel rolled out new Southern fried chicken. In a recent meeting with Gordon Haskett's Jeff Farmer, executives said that the chain planned to focus future innovation around fried chicken, including a sandwich.
"Management expects the chicken entrées to include (1) Homestyle Chicken (two boneless fried chicken breasts), which will expand from a Sunday only to a full-time menu offering, (2) chicken tenders and (3) a chicken sandwich," Famer wrote in a note to investors on Thursday.