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QSR Feature
Hot or Not
Looking back at Ones to Watch.

In celebration of QSR’s 10th anniversary, we decided to look back at 10 of our most interesting Ones to Watch to find out if they truly were the hot concepts they appeared to be when they were profiled. From wild success to dismal failure, the balance sheets show a true mix of experiences. But the numbers aren’t nearly as compelling as the stories behind them.

Is this restaurant hot or not?September/October 1997

California Pizza Kitchen/ASAP

California Pizza Kitchen, the full-service provider of unusual pizzas, made a conservative entry into the quick-service marketplace with its ASAP concept in 1996 and has grown in similar fashion over the past 11 years. The concept began with initial franchisee Host-Marriott opening two locations in Los Angeles International Airport.

CEO: Rick Rosenfield and
Larry Flax

Headquarters: Los Angeles

Year started: 1996

Annual sales: Not Disclosed

Total units: 27

Franchise units: 16

CPK initially described the ASAP concept as premium fast-serve, offering its hearth-baked pizzas, salads, soups, and sandwiches from the full-service restaurant menu in a fast, convenient setting. Public relations manager Erin Murphy says that description still fits today.

In 1997, the company had five CPK/ASAP stores operating in airports. The concept has grown to 27 units in a mix of airport, mall, and stadium locations.

Is this restaurant hot or not?January/February 1999

Chicken Kitchen

Having spent 14 years developing it, Chicken Kitchen CEO Christian de Berdouare told QSR in 1999 that he was “in no hurry” to develop his Miami-based rotisserie chain. At the time, he operated six company-owned stores and had recently brought on a new vice president of franchising development.

De Berdouare is a man of his word. Despite a flurry of positive press and business-world attention in the early-2000s, Chicken Kitchen is still a small, regional chain. Though de Berdouare talked about opening in California, New England, and the Southwest eight years ago, only two Chicken Kitchens are open outside of Florida today. Both are in Houston and owned by sub-franchisor Chicken Kitchen Houston LLC. Houston is a fan. Citysearch users voted Chicken Kitchen “Best Fast Food In Houston” in 2006. Managing director Federico Muyshondt says Chicken Kitchen Houston LLC intends to open 24 additional units in Houston over the next seven years. A sub-franchisor out of Colorado is expected to open Denver’s first Chicken Kitchen this month. Philadelphia is on line, too.

CEO: Christian de Berdouare

Headquarters: North Miami
Beach, Florida

Annual sales: $1.1 million

Total units: 35

Franchise units: 23

As the concept stakes out new territory, old ways won’t be abandoned. Chicken Kitchen’s famed CHOP CHOP dish remains on the menu, as does its popular Mustard ‘n Curry sauce. Kids still eat free with the purchase of an adult entree on Sundays at most stores, and microwaves, fryers, and holding cabinets have yet to make an appearance.

Moving forward, look for Chicken Kitchen units to pop up in Tampa and Orlando. Those too will be franchisee-owned stores.

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