There’s something to be said for doing just one thing and doing it really, really well. That’s certainly the case for CHX, a chicken tender-centric restaurant in Minneapolis.
CHX (pronounced “chicks”) is a venture by childhood friends Frederick Huballa, Shawn Edwards and Marques Johnson. They launched their business in the summer of 2020 from a takeout window in Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood. Although it was a difficult time for the restaurant industry, their takeout concept was perfectly tailored to the social distancing measures required by the pandemic. Soon, lines were forming around the block as word spread that the hand-breaded chicken tenders were worth the wait.
What makes CHX tenders unique? “The flavor! We make love to our chicken,” said Johnson with a chuckle.
“It’s made with tender loving care,” added Edwards. “It’s our authentic recipe. It’s near and dear to our hearts.”
After last summer’s successful takeout run, the founders recently opened a fast-casual CHX restaurant in the Lowry Hill neighborhood. While the new restaurant is much bigger, the streamlined menu is the same: three, four or six-piece chicken tender meals served with a side of coleslaw, crinkle-cut fries, a honey butter biscuit and CHX’s signature sauce.
“The concept is simple. After the turmoil and uncertainty of the past year and half, we wanted to keep it simple,” said Edwards.
“I believe the fried chicken’s origin and authenticity comes from the Black experience in America, and there isn’t a large chain that has been successful or been presented from the Black perspective in the comfort fast-casual food space,” said Huballa.
Transitioning from a takeout window open four days a week to a restaurant that’s open daily has involved a steep learning curve. Originally, CHX sourced some of their menu items (such as the honey butter biscuits) from local vendors; now, everything is made in house.
Edwards notes that developing a well-trained, consistent staff has been a challenge, but one that he’s excited about. “We want to create job opportunities for people, [while] creating a family environment. We’re making [CHX] a positive environment for everyone.”
The founders are also spreading positivity throughout their community. The restaurant has committed to giving away 50 meals per week for the next year to non-profit organizations in youth athletics, education and extracurricular activities.
“Being from the community, it’s important to us to give back,” said Edwards (he and Huballa are from Minneapolis while Johnson hails from the adjacent city of St. Paul). “We want to inspire the youth to do the same thing, to always give back.”
Now that they’ve opened their first location, the founders are already looking forward to expanding throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, then to the suburbs and eventually to other states.
Said Huballa: “Our goal is to open 100 restaurants and share our concept with fried chicken fans all around the United States.”
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