Chicken in a Barrel is hoping to tap into the similar atmosphere that Ventura has to Hawaii to fuel growth.
Since its inception in 2010, Chicken in a Barrel has been a Hawaiian treasure—winning over the hearts (and the stomachs) of locals throughout the Kauai Island. Make a trip to one of the brand’s two location on the Garden Island of Kauai in Hanalei and Kappa, and it’s easy to see why.
For the past seven years, the brand has built on founder Mike Pierce’s unique style of cooking called “Smoked Barbecue” that’s been a family tradition for more than 35 years. Drums filled with kiawe logs they cut themselves, light charcoal and a secret recipe dry rub provide the mesquite flavor of their tender meats that are suspended over the coals on bars and hooks. The drum is covered with a lid, which allows the meat to smoke as it cooks. It’s hard not be blown away by the smoky flavors of the chicken, beef, pork and baby back ribs. It’s even harder to fight off the cravings for more that kick in later.
In fact, during the first day that Chicken in a Barrel opened for business, they gave away 100 free meals knowing that people would come back for more. Customers were lining up down the highway for a taste of Pierce’s signature barbecue. They may have not realized it then, but that was the start of something incredible in Hawaii’s restaurant scene.
As word of Pierce’s slow-smoked food spread throughout town, and demand for his mouth-watering barbecue grew, Pierce and his family decided to expand their business model with franchisee partners. Working closely alongside The Internicola Law Firm, in 2016, with the help of his son-in-laws, Brent Bierma and Patrick Pepper, Pierce officially launched a unique franchising opportunity with Chicken in a Barrel.
“Our Barrel-made barbecue has always been a family favorite. That’s why we decided to create Chicken In A Barrel—we had the opportunity to bring that same culinary joy to other families in our community,” said Pierce. “Ever since we opened up our first restaurant on Kauai, we’ve had customers asking us to bring the concept to other parts of the U.S. And now that we’re franchising, we finally have the ability to make that happen.”
Today, Chicken in a Barrel already has its first franchise under its belt—thanks to Alex and Jennifer Vilera, the brand is opening its first location in the mainland by way of Santa Barbara, California. Now, Chicken in a Barrel has its sights set on a new market for future development—Ventura, California, a coastal town that’s a short 30-minute drive south from Santa Barbara. According to Bierma, they’re hoping to tap into the similar atmosphere that Ventura has to Hawaii to fuel growth. Because of its surfer town vibe and perfect weather, the town will make for an ideal location for an outdoor restaurant like Chicken in a Barrel. And because Ventura is denser than Hawaii, it creates even more opportunity for guest traffic.
Vilera was inspired to open a Chicken in a Barrel in Santa Barbara for all of these reasons and more.
“It’s really common for people from Santa Barbara to vacation in Kauai, so we’re finding that a lot of people are already familiar with the brand and want a location here as much as I do! The food itself is fantastic, but the people, atmosphere and purpose of spreading the love of God is what has us most thrilled about serving our neighbors,” Vilera said.
Now, Chicken in a Barrel is looking for franchisees like Vilera to help move the brand forward throughout Ventura and beyond.
Franchisees will have the opportunity to either establish a Roadside Express (which has an investment ranging from $244,510 to $395,208) or a Full-Service Restaurant (which has an investment ranging from $497,100 to $687,500). And with area development opportunities available, owners can sign on to develop as many as three Chicken in a Barrel locations.
“We’re dedicated to making positive contributions to the local communities we serve through a family approach to everything we do and by providing high quality food. Service-minded individuals who have a passion for helping others will undoubtedly thrive with Chicken in a Barrel,” said Bierma. “This is truly purpose-driven entrepreneurship, and we’re excited to see what the future holds as we grow Chicken in a Barrel.”