A strong entrepreneurial drive is embedded in Eric Taylor’s DNA. Over the course of his career, Taylor launched several successful multi-million dollar companies. So even when he and his wife retired from corporate America and moved from the Mainland U.S. to Hawaii, he and his wife decided to build and launch one of his most ambitious endeavors yet – a 130 acre operating ranch on the north shore of beautiful Kauai that offers totally free camps to less privileged youth. They called it Makanalani, which in Hawaiian means Heavenly Gift.
Because the camps are always free, the ongoing funding of camps was a major challenge. So Taylor and his wife started farming sheep, introduced milk cows, citrus groves, honey and herbs, and then they branched out and started different businesses on the island, including two Hawaiian Shave Ice stores, a motorcycle rental business and an herbal tea business, with all the profits channeled into funding camps. But they realized that for free camps to be sustainable in the longer term, they needed to do more. That’s when they decided to look into Chicken in a Barrel.
From its signature steel drums that cook smoked meat that’s then served off the hook in its family friendly environment, there are a lot of reasons that Chicken in a Barrel stands out as a one of a kind franchising opportunity. And according to Taylor, it was the leadership behind the brand and the brand’s focus on innovation and creating a positive environment for consumers that inspired them to franchise.
“We’ve gotten to know the leadership team behind Chicken in a Barrel very well over the past few years because there’s a restaurant right next door to one of our shave ice stores. The diligence, character and integrity of the leadership team is what first sparked our interest in diversifying with the brand. And as soon as we started to learn more about the ins and outs of the organization, we knew it was the perfect fit for us,” said Taylor. “Not only is the product high quality—it’s also unique. That’s created a strong customer following and level of loyalty that we’re eager to tap into as we get our new restaurant off the ground. Another huge plus for us is the very high level of support that we are getting from the leadership as we launch into a brand new field, and their commitment to our success. ”
But for Taylor and his wife, franchising with Chicken in a Barrel is so much more than a traditional business opportunity. The Chicken in a Barrel franchise will become a major contributor to the Makanalani camps, with 100% of the profits going to keeping those doors open.
“Ever since we opened Makanalani, our goal has been to continue making a difference in the lives of kids. But doing that isn’t cheap—we have 130 acres and facilities and activities that we need to maintain in a sustainable way so that kids can continue to stay with us for free. The profits that we receive from Chicken in a Barrel will continue fueling those efforts,” said Taylor. “Our passion for charity and kids and giving back ties in very well with the leadership of Chicken in a Barrel, because from the top down they are dedicated to being charitable. It’s exciting to be a part of a system that believes in and supports our mission.”
Taylor expects his new Kapaa location to officially be up and running early in 2018, and he expects that his ability to support his local community and Makanalani will strengthen soon afterwards. And as Chicken in a Barrel continues to expand, the brand is anticipating partnering with other local owners who share that same drive to play an integral role in their neighborhoods.
“Having the opportunity to work with franchisees like Eric is what inspired us to grow through franchising in the first place. He shares our same passion for supporting the Kauai community, both as a restaurant and as an organization committed to giving back. That’s why we’re excited to have him be a part of the growing Chicken in a Barrel team,” said Brent Bierma, co-owner of Chicken in a Barrel. “Going forward, we’re looking forward to working with more local owners like Eric as we continue to expand outside of our home in Hawaii. There’s no doubt that our model brings something special to the table, and we’re confident that our franchisees will be able to replicate our success wherever they open their doors.”