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NRN Showdown

With a new prototype, Sweet Chick thinks now is the time to expand

The brand’s new design is ready, and CEO John Seymour thinks now is the time to find partners for a national expansion


Sweet Chick is a five-unit chain based in New York City that’s become home to rappers, singers, and creatives alike.

CEO and founder John Seymour, alongside partner and musician Nas, says the vibe of the restaurant is catered to those in a creative field. That’s not to say that the only customer base at Sweet Chick is creatives, though.

“At the same time, we see 70-, 80-year-old people on a date,” Seymour told Nation’s Restaurant News. “And that's the stuff that makes me feel like we're doing something special.”

That something special includes chicken and waffles that have become known throughout New York City, which is no easy market to break into. Seymour said he doesn’t want customers leaving uncomfortably full, but just full enough. And that’s full of social interactions as well as food.

“You know, ‘spread love’ is literally our motto, which is what we want to do,” he said. “We want people to walk in, and we want them to leave happier; we want them to have a great experience.”

The concept, founded in 2013, brought Nas along in 2015 to help expand the brand nationally. Its locations today are all in New York City, but that won’t be the case for long.

“I think we're kind of at a precipice for us as a brand where we are on the verge of potentially meeting up with some excellent partners to help us take this out nationally, and it's an exciting time,” Seymour said.

The brand just opened its first fast-casual prototype in Union Square. That location is the chain’s new prototype for growth.

“Just because we're moving into fast casual does not mean we're moving away from hospitality,” he said. “We're a hospitality-driven company.”

Prior to 2022, Sweet Chick had been casual dining. Seymour said the new prototype and the move to fast casual would help the brand grow.

“For us, scalability and control over the store level is extremely important,” he said. “And we want to make sure that at every store, we're giving the customer the same exact experience.”

Over the past few years, the brand has slowly been converting old spaces to this fast-casual model and changing kitchen layouts to reduce the ticket time.

“We've come a long way from our origins and really streamlined our menu and really perfected it,” Seymour said.

He believes there’s room in the better chicken category for Sweet Chick, despite a crowded field.

“I think we're a company that really deserves to be in that spot,” he said. “And I think there's room for us, and I think we're just a little bit more unique than the rest of the crowd.”

That little bit more includes huge customer loyalty to the brand — in fact, people have gotten married at Sweet Chick before, according to Seymour.

“People tell me all the time: They might be wearing a Sweet Chick hoodie and people stopped them on the street, and the first thing out of the mouth is, ‘I love Sweet Chick,’” he said.

Vote for Sweet Chick in the Chicken Showdown on LinkedIn or Instagram.

Meet the other Chicken Showdown contenders here.

Contact Holly Petre at [email protected]

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