Skip navigation
Angry Chickz was started in 2018.

How Angry Chickz is using the suburbs as a big part of its growth strategy

This restaurant brand is taking Nashville hot chicken to California

Nashville hot chicken is a staple of the American food scene in 2024, but before the pandemic, it wasn’t nearly as common. In the wake of the rise in consumer desire for fried and spicy chicken, restaurant chains specializing in the cuisine have popped up across the country, some growing to hundreds of units.

According to Technomic Ignite, Nashville hot has increased on restaurant menus by 0.5% over the past five years and had an operator penetration of 1.6% as of Q4 2023.

In the sea of chicken concepts — and especially Nashville hot — the highlights are a smattering of regional concepts with one or two rising to the top nationally.

Angry Chickz CEO David Mkhitaryan first had Nashville hot chicken in 2017, at which point he believed it was just a regional food. He loved it so much that he brought it to California and opened Angry Chickz.

Mkhitaryan was already in the restaurant industry working at several family-owned mom-and-pop restaurants.

When he discovered Nashville hot chicken, he decided he had to make his own version and tinkered to find the right recipe. That’s the recipe Angry Chickz locations are still using six years later.

“When I first discovered that hot fried chicken existed, I was blown away by the idea because I am a spicy food lover,” said Mkhitaryan. “I kept trying to make it for myself and trying to come up with the goal [of hot fried chicken].”

The idea behind the menu was to embrace different levels of spice. While Mkhitaryan was a spice fan, he knew not everyone was, so he created a scale of spice levels that’s displayed on the brand’s menus going from Country (no heat) to Angry (sign waiver).

The brand’s first store opened in West Hollywood, Calif., in 2018 and “quickly became a neighborhood favorite,” Mkhitaryan said.

The menu is simple with four main dishes and nine sides. The mains — which are all combo meals — are traditional Southern chicken favorites including a spicy tender on a piece of bread with fries, and chicken tenders over rice with coleslaw, pickles, and a proprietary spicy sauce.

That also makes for simple and efficient operations.

“Operations is pretty much dialed in, and it’s a very simple, easy flow,” he said.

Soon, there were two locations and a few more and Mkhitaryan realized that the suburbs were going to be more lucrative for him.

At an opening in Bakersfield, Calif., there was an exceptional turnout.

“That’s what gave me the idea,” he said, “that we could pursue more suburban neighborhoods and in smaller cities versus bigger metropolitan cities like Los Angeles.”

Across the chain’s 25 locations, only two are in larger cities — the original location in Hollywood, Calif., and a newer unit in Las Vegas. The rest are all in small cities across California with one location in Glendale, Ariz.

This is the plan for growth moving forward, and Mkhitaryan is planning on big but manageable growth through franchising.

“I’m very methodical in our growth,” he said. “We’re moving maybe a little bit slower, but I plan to move in the right direction versus trying to be the fastest-growing franchise.”

As for what Mkhitaryan is looking for in franchisees, cultural alignment is the most important.

“The biggest piece becomes the cultural piece and the people piece of it,” he said. “If they understand and they get what we’re trying to do, we’re all aligned from a consumer standpoint.”

Mkhitaryan is looking for multi-unit franchisees now.

“I do foresee one day to have a presence throughout the United States,” Mkhitaryan said.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.