Ever since its first store opened roughly 46 years ago, Bojangles has been all about bone-in fried chicken. The regional chain does sell boneless chicken options like tenders and sandwiches, but bone-in chicken has always held a central spot on the menu. Until now.
The beloved chicken chain has started testing a smaller menu at certain locations which completely foregoes the bone-in items. Instead, these smaller menus largely focus on Bojangles’ breakfast options, chicken sandwiches, and chicken tenders.
During a recent appearance on A Deeper Dive podcast, Bojangles CEO Jose Armario explained that the major change was a response to soaring customer demand for boneless options.
“I think if you look at consumer consumption, you’ll find that boneless chicken [has] been on the rise for several years and I think it’s pretty much preferred,” he said. “In today’s world where you have a lot of demand but you’re also stressed on the labor side, you have got to find ways to be productive and efficient in giving customers what they want.”
The new menu is being tested at locations in Memphis, Tenn., and Monroe, La., and the chain is already seeing promising success.
“What we’re finding is [that] the customer is pretty happy,” Armario said. “The sales have been well over our projections.”
Armario acknowledged that Bojangles is known for its bone-in fried chicken and stressed that the company is willing to refocus on this main offering in the future.
“We always have the option,” he said. “We left room in the kitchen to add an additional fryer or two.”
But for the time being, Bojangles plans to continue offering a more limited and focused set of menu items as it expands to new markets.
“We want to start with a simpler menu that hits the sweet spot of where the consumer is today,” he said.
In good news for customers ordering from these smaller test menus, the chain’s popular biscuits, sweet tea, and a “great selection” of sides, isn’t going away any time soon.
Bojangles locations are mostly concentrated in the South, though customers can also find some locations further east. The chain currently operates 795 restaurants across 15 states, according to the data company ScrapeHero. North Carolina, where the chain is based, is home to 341 of those stores.