A new quick-service restaurant concept building on the principles of traditional Portuguese chicken launched in southern Ontario last fall with plans for eventual expansion in the Greater Toronto Area.
Hangry Chicken specializes in the famous Piri-Piri Chicken but has added a modern twist to the food offering.
The Quick-Service Restaurant has Sights set on Toronto Expansion
“The long-term goal will be to get to about five to six locations and then we’re going to start franchising,” said David White, Director of Operations for Hangry.
The first location was launched in November 2019 in Burlington, Ontario. Stoney Creek in the Hamilton area is opening in July.
“We already have a waiting list of people who have already approached us to purchase locations. We’re kind of waiting to hit that five to six restaurant mark and then start the process,” said White, adding the Toronto area is next on the list.
“Toronto has always been on the radar. We have a site secured for Toronto already. I don’t know if it will be ready for this year because of the delay with COVID and construction being behind schedule. But we’ve also been approached by a handful of landlords that have space for our requirements and it stretches anywhere from downtown Toronto, uptown Toronto, Mississauga, downtown Hamilton. We have a lot to choose from but we’re going to be very picky about where we go because we want to make sure we don’t overlap with any of our current locations,” added White.
Owners of Hangry when they were thinking of a name for their unique establishment felt the food was so good that it would cure people’s most basic hunger feelings — past the point of hungry feeling. They landed on the name Hangry.
White said traditional Portuguese chicken tends to be cooked over a grill and a flame. Hangry’s chicken is cooked on a rotisserie.
“I would say our food has a little bit of twist to it. It’s almost like a new fusion. We’re doing our piri-piri sauce but we’ll add it to a poutine or we’ll do our piri-piri tacos. So it’s two different foods. Tacos on the Mexican side mixed with our Portuguese influences,” said White.
“Our sauce, which is our trade secret sauce, was created by the ownership group after many trials and errors and we feel it’s probably the best representation of a traditional piri-piri sauce but with a bit of a twist.”
White said piri-piri is a mixture of seasonings that trace back to Portuguese and South African roots. It’s a blend of seasonings that would be used to marinade and season chicken as well as other meats.
White said he would describe Hangry as a quick service restaurant but because everything on the menu is made fresh it’s not what you would typically find in a QSR. It’s a step above that category. The locations have a small dine in area as about 90 percent of the business is takeout.
James Schwartz, Executive Vice President and Broker at Paracom Realty Corporation Brokerage, said the company has Hangry as a client in helping them locate real estate that would be suitable for expansion.
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Hangry Chicken Experiencing Higher Sales Post-COVID
He said the Burlington location was an immediate hit in the community and when restaurants in the province were ordered to offer only take out and delivery due to COVID, Hangry was already set up for that – and it was a smooth transition.
It actually went so well that sales continued to climb even after lockdown, and today the first Hangry location is doing higher sales than what it had done prior to COVID.
Schwartz said Hangry has taken possession of a unit at Winona Crossing, the new Costco-anchored Penequity large format centre at the QEW/50 side road in Stoney Creek.
Right now, the focus is on increasing brand recognition by looking for one to two units in downtown Toronto as well as Mississauga. They will require 800 to 1,200 square feet and preference will be given to busy pedestrian street front locations in urban areas, and inline units of grocery-anchored plazas in the suburbs. The founder wants to first look at conversion opportunities whereby they take over locations where a restaurant had been operating, to save on basic services and upgrades that will have already been brought to the premises.