Buttermilk Southern-Style Fried Chicken Sandwiches
Author’s text: The AGC has trained many new entrepreneurs, especially in the F&B scene. Starting a home business is sort of easier now when paired with the abundance of courier services and online marketplaces such as Kravve or Good finds.
What started as a shared love for fried chicken between 2 friends quickly materialized into a Southern style fried chicken based business. Initially, treating it simply as a side project that would potentially generate zero income, Shafiq and Johann started out with just RM 1,000 capital for R&D in the former’s home kitchen.
After 3 months of meticulously perfecting the recipe for their Buttermilk Chicken, they were ready to bring their product to market. Unfortunately for them, COVID-19 cases have increased locally in 2020, and AGC has been announced.
“We had already planned to do pop-ups starting in March and decided that because everyone had to be home, why not start a home delivery operation?” Shafiq reminded Vulcan Post. Therefore, FOWLBOYS launched on the same day the country experienced our first lockdown on March 18, 2020.
Yet another brand of fried chicken?
The decision to venture into FOWLBOYS came upon Johann’s return from a family trip to Melbourne and Sydney. There he discovered 2 inspired southern style fried chicken dinners.
An avid home cook and former event management consultant, Johann pitched his idea to Shafiq and they realized an opportunity in the market. Fried chicken sells well in Malaysia, but there are so many focused on fast food and Korean styles.
“We saw a gap in the southern style fried chicken market. Buttermilk is a staple ingredient in the Southern tradition, so it was natural to start with buttermilk-marinated fried chicken, ”said Shafiq, who leads the brand’s marketing with his background in fashion marketing.
Together, they found ways to make FOWLBOYS stand out from the multitude of ready-to-eat chicken products on the market.
First comes their product line; in addition to emphasizing the buttermilk marinade, their dishes are sold as sandwiches instead of bone-in products (think KFC). Shafiq added, “From a marketing standpoint, a chicken sandwich is a more complete dining experience than fried chicken.”
The tone used in FOWLBOYS ‘social media marketing is also an important characteristic for them, laid back and approachable with a touch of humor. Customers are called “Cluckers”, a sandwich is called “Motherclucker” and “Cluck Off” is stamped on each paper bag.
“We are cheeky without any excuse. You probably won’t find this in our more refined counterparts, ”commented Shafiq.
With limited capital of RM 1,000, the team’s decision to sell fried chicken sandwiches is twofold. In addition to marketing, they also had practical reasons to forgo bone-in chicken products.
Bone chickens would take up more storage space in their home freezer and they couldn’t fit large volumes into their small fryer. “In addition, the frying time of bone-in chicken is considerably longer than that of the boneless thigh fillets that we use,” Shahfiq pointed out.
“So from an operations and financial standpoint, it made more sense to start with sandwiches. The only equipment cost for frying bone-in chickens would also be much higher. “
The power of word of mouth
Like any home business, sales started with friends and family to spread awareness of FOWLBOYS and its products. From there, sales grew organically, from 30 sandwiches a day the first week to 40 the next, and so on. By the end of the 2020 AGC in May, the partners were selling 100 sandwiches a day.
“We focused on marketing ourselves on Instagram and found that most of our customers shared their meals on their stories. We really have the best customers because they did most of the marketing for us – we didn’t spend a single penny on social media ads until much later, ”Shafiq told Vulcan Post.
With sufficient revenue since launching a year ago, FOWLBOYS is considering a planned spend of 150k RM for its next store. The original plan was to open a small, hole-in-the-wall store at Mount Kiara, but they have since found larger land for a bargain. Shafiq and Johann scaled up their plan and landed in a small restaurant that can seat up to 25 people.
They will use more of the land to make it a central kitchen that will support their other cloud kitchen at Mount Kiara. “As much as we believe in the lite business model of ghost kitchens, you can’t deny the fact that the dining experience is still important to a brand’s longevity,” Shafiq said.
Conclusion: It should be noted that FOWLBOYS is not the only brand of Southern style fried chicken locally. Another one that I found, Southern fried chicken serves them too, even as a sandwich. However, it’s far from a saturated market, and I think Shafiq and Johann’s business has the potential to go far, especially with their loyal fan base that has grown over the past year. .
- You can read more about FOWLBOYS here.
- You can read more about other startups we’ve covered here.
Featured Image Credit: FOWLBOYS
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