Two life-long friends came together to create a fast-casual, quick-service restaurant focused on premium chicken sandwiches, tenders, fries, wings and hand-crafted beverages, and Chicken Head’s was founded in 2019.
But 2020 brought some unexpected curveballs, to say the least. The pandemic hit, slowing everything down, and a disgruntled business partner vandalized the restaurant. Barely off the ground, Chicken Head’s needed to close for 15 months.
But founder Chef Anthony Head was in it for the long haul and decided to use this time to improve the business and invest in making it grow. Thanks to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, he was able to get Chicken Head’s back on its feet, operating in a ghost kitchen to keep cash flow moving.
At the end of those 15 months, Chef Anthony felt more confident about Chicken Head’s than ever before, because during that interim period, he discovered AyrKing.
Chef Anthony drove down to Louisville to visit AyrKing’s test kitchen in fall 2021. He believed AyrKing could help Chicken Head’s scale up, but he wanted to test the equipment himself, using his product and his recipes.
He walked out of AyrKing with not just one or two, but three pieces of equipment: the Vacuum Marinator, the DrumRoll and the BBS.
The restaurant industry as a whole faced challenges post-pandemic, and Chicken Head’s was no exception. Chef Anthony said he couldn’t have made the decision to invest in AyrKing at a better time, given the constraints they were facing with labor and skill. “With AyrKing, we saw savings during every single step of the process,” he said.
Chicken Head’s marinating process took about 12 hours. With AyrKing’s vacuum marinator, they were able to achieve the same results in 20 minutes.
The original concept for Chicken Head’s was 12 people per shift. With AyrKing equipment, Chef Anthony has been able to operate with only two people the entire day. “The savings in labor alone paid for the equipment in the first month,” he said.
The BBS (Breader Blender Sifter) is an auto sifter for fried breading that improves consistency and cuts hand-sifting time by up to 80% and saves on ingredient costs by up to 40%.
The DrumRoll automatic breading machine gently tumbles product for a consistent coating, extending fryer oil and breading life.
The Vacuum Marinator uses vacuum pressure and a tumbling action to dramatically reduce the time needed to marinate proteins. The flat edge of the barrel tenderizes the meat as it tumbles, and the vacuum removes air from the chamber so marinade can deeply penetrate the meat.
Since incorporating AyrKing equipment into Chicken Head’s operations, Chef Anthony claims his chicken is even better than before.
Thanks to the savings in both labor and product, Chef Anthony knew he could grow his company with a low-capital investment.
Chicken Head’s chicken sandwich recently placed second in a local market competition, just behind Chick-fil-A and before Popeye’s, and they’re in the running for another local fried chicken award.
“It’s the AyrKing equipment that’s given us the competitive advantage,” Chef Anthony said. “It’s helped us step up to what the big boys are using.”
Building plans are underway for a large model location downtown. This 4,000-square-foot facility will serve as a local market hub for the Ohio/Midwest region. The Chicken Head’s flagship will house a traditional restaurant on the top floor and a production kitchen in the basement that will supply other ghost kitchens throughout the greater metropolitan area.