As the brand continues to open up more locations both in Hawaii and across the Mainland, Chicken in a Barrel is committed to maintaining its family-friendly environment.
Today, Chicken in a Barrel is known for being an emerging franchise concept creating a new meaning for the word “barbecue.” But before the brand was breaking into new markets both in its home state of Hawaii and across the Mainland, it was simply a family tradition.
The signature “smoked barbecue” that Chicken in a Barrel is famous for started out as a way to gather people around the family dinner table. Instead of relying on a standard grill, Mike Pierce, the founder behind Chicken in a Barrel, prepared dinner by cooking meat in a custom barrel before serving it right off the hook. The entire experience was always a family favorite—in fact, its popularity is what inspired Pierce to officially launch the Chicken in a Barrel brand. But even as the concept has grown from one location to a system of restaurants, the brand has always made sure family comes first.
“Because this is our family business, we have a tendency to treat everyone that walks through our doors like they’re family. We hear that from our customers and franchisees all the time—even our candidates will tell us that one of the things they appreciate most about the Chicken in a Barrel brand is the fact that we’re so family oriented. That’s why we’re confident that our unique dynamic will help us grow as we continue to expand through franchising,” said Pierce. “It’s a huge blessing that we’re able to work with family—and that we all get along. But by working together, we’re able to accomplish things that we could never do on our own, and we’re able to take advantage of the individual strengths that we each bring to the table.”
To get Chicken in a Barrel’s business ownership opportunity off of the ground and introduce more consumers to the brand’s slow-smoked food, Pierce teamed up with his son-in-laws, Brent Bierma and Patrick Pepper. Together with their wives and children, they each take on their own responsibilities based on their areas of expertise. And according to Bierma, that creates a one of a kind corporate team that opens the door to a wide variety of franchisees.
“The advantage for franchisees who come into our system is that no matter who they are or what their personality is, there’s someone on our corporate team that they’re able going to be able to relate to. This isn’t your traditional, cookie cutter franchise—we pride ourselves on being incredibly diverse when it comes to our business and leadership styles. That then means that we’re able to provide the right guidance and support that each individual franchisee needs, allowing us to better position them for success in the long run,” Bierma said.
Another advantage that comes with Chicken in a Barrel’s history as a family business is the fact that the brand has extensive experience when it comes to perfecting its system. The concept started out as a passion project—no one came into the brand as an expert in restaurant operations. However, through trial and error, Pierce, Bierma and Pepper have been able to figure out what works and what doesn’t. That means that franchisees who sign on to open up their own Chicken in a Barrel location will be able to avoid those same mistakes, setting them ahead of the competition.
“Everything that we’ve learned here at Chicken in a Barrel has been by mistake. There’s comfort for our franchisees in knowing that we’ve built this business through trial and error—we may not have been restaurant pros when we first started out, but now our local owners have the advantage of learning from our past mistakes,” said Pepper. “As franchisors, we’re now in a position where we can provide guidance to our local owners to ensure that they’re positioned for success.”
As Chicken in a Barrel continues to work with its local owners to set them up for long-term success and welcome even more franchisees into its system, the brand is committed to replicating its family friendly environment everywhere it opens up a new restaurant. The Chicken in a Barrel family doesn’t end with Pierce’s line—instead, it includes every person who walks through their doors.
“At the end of the day, we wouldn’t be doing this if we weren’t working with one another. We play off of one another’s strengths, and we’re eager to allow our franchisees do the same—our goal is to pull from the positive attributes that everyone has to offer in order to make Chicken in a Barrel the best brand that it can be,” said Pierce. “As we continue to team up with new franchisees, we’re looking forward to welcoming even more communities into our ever-growing family.”