Bojangles, a cherished regional fried chicken chain originating from North Carolina in 1977, is poised to make its mark on the national stage, challenging industry giants like KFC and Popeyes. In a recent interview with QSR Magazine, Bojangles’ CEO, Jose Armario, shared insights into the brand’s expansion strategy, innovative menu approach, and the unique elements that set it apart in a competitive market. From our perspective, we believe that Bojangles’ strong connection with customers positions it for success as a national chain.

Bojangles currently boasts over 800 locations across 17 U.S. states, with a stronghold in the Southeast. Recent expansion efforts include new outlets in Ohio, a franchisee commitment for 20 restaurants in Las Vegas, plans for 10 establishments in TravelCenters of America’s Western market, and a pledge to enter the Chicago market. Impressively, Bojangles achieved 42 new openings between 2020 and 2023.

Adapting to Evolving Tastes

Acknowledging the declining popularity of bone-in chicken, Bojangles is revamping its menu to align with the preferences of younger customers. Brooks Spiers, Bojangles’ vice president of franchise sales, emphasized this shift, focusing on hand-breaded tenders—a move reminiscent of the popular Dave’s Hot Chicken—and introducing a new chicken sandwich.

Spiers stated, “Every company in the world wants to figure out a way to attract younger customers. So we obviously knew that we needed to do it with some new menu innovation.”

Bojangles’ commitment to menu innovation extends to its successful breakfast category, known for handmade biscuits and teas. The addition of items like Bo-Berry Biscuits, milkshakes, lemonade, and new teas aims to capture a broader audience.

Strategic Restaurant Design and Operational Efficiency

Bojangles is not just innovating its menu but also focusing on the design of its newest restaurant locations. Around a dozen establishments across various states feature a visible biscuit station, allowing customers to witness the craftsmanship behind their biscuits. The company is leveraging the charm of its southern-inspired menu by incorporating it into the design elements of its establishments.

In addition to a customer-centric design, Bojangles is enhancing operational efficiency. Newer restaurants showcase streamlined kitchens, dual drive-thru lanes, digital menu boards, and daypart-specific holding zones referred to as “The Power Line.” These updates aim to optimize the customer experience and improve order processing.

Balancing Tradition with Innovation

Bojangles’ approach to national expansion involves a delicate balance between preserving its cherished traditions and embracing innovative strategies. The brand is tapping into its southern charm while introducing new flavors and formats that appeal to evolving consumer preferences.

From our perspective, we believe that Bojangles’ deep-rooted connection with its customer base, combined with its strategic initiatives, positions it for success as a national chain. As Bojangles embarks on this ambitious journey, its commitment to maintaining a core identity, adapting to customer demands, and integrating technological advancements suggests it is well-prepared for the challenge. The brand’s ability to resonate with customers on a personal level is a key ingredient that could make Bojangles a standout national success story.