First Look: Super Chix debuts Dallas store with tweaks to Arlington original, as YUM! Brands readies concept for expansion
Made-to-order fried chicken, hand-cut french fries and superb frozen custard: those are the calling cards of Super Chix, the second iteration of YUM! Brands’ pilot project, opened last week in Far North Dallas.
The wizard behind Super Chix is Nick Ouimet, who was given the green light and greenbacks to create the concept from scratch by parent company YUM! (which also owns Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell and the nascent Banh Shop). But except for its casual nature and quick service heart, that’s about all that Super Chix shares with its fast food brethren — or a well-known Southern competitor.
So if you’ve heard that Super Chix is a knock-off of Chick-Fil-A, you’ve heard wrong; Super Chix’s chicken is plumper, crispier and, except for a bit of sweetness, bears little resemblance to Chick-Fil-A’s greasier, thinner, markedly sweeter bird.
“There’s no crossover or influence” from any of the YUM brands or Chick-Fil-A, says Ouimet, scooping frozen custard from a ten-inch ribbon of Dutch chocolate custard slowly unspooling from the custard freezer. “I’ve worked at all the YUM! brands, so I understand them,” but Super Chix was designed from the ground up by a small team chosen and led by Ouimet — a group that included veteran restaurant inventor Mark Brezinksi (Velvet Taco, Banh Shop, Tin Star among others).
“Sure, we make chicken and fries, but it’s totally different” from the recipe and cooking process used at KFC and Chick-Fil-A, Ouimet told me while showing me around the new Super Chix on opening day.
At Super Chix, for example, the chicken is hand-breaded, dipped in seasoned flour and cooked in open fryers — unlike the pressure fryers used at KFC. “No preservatives, colors or dyes,” adds Ouimet.
To ensure that all the french fries in an order are evenly crisped and free of broken niblets, Ouimet and his team devised a system to cook each order individually. Freshly cut potatoes are loaded into small wire baskets, blanched, cooled then fried a second time so they emerge fluffy, crispy and crunchy. They’re then served in wide-bottomed containers rather than tall cups — a change from the original Super Chix — so the fries stay crisp longer.
Super Chix may be devoted to fried chicken and french fries, but its soul is frozen custard. People rightly murmur over the Tahitian vanilla, Dutch chocolate and rotating flavor-of-the-day, each as creamy and dreamy as the custard served at Kopp’s, the Wisconsin frozen custard shop that Ouimet considers the standard bearer.
“When we opened Super Chix (the original, in Arlington, last year), we thought we’d be known for our chicken and fries. But it turns out custard is also our thing,” says Ouimet. “The custards are made with all-natural ingredients like cane sugar, fresh fruits, fresh milk, fresh cream, Tahitian vanilla, top quality cocoa. We make it several times a day, and the machine is front-and-center, one of the first things you see when you walk up. It’s nearly impossible not to order custard.”
Having tasted the chocolate, vanilla and “coffee and donuts”– espresso custard with chunks of cake donuts mixed in — I absolutely understand why. If I lived nearby, I’d pop in weekly to stock up on $5.99 pints of all the flavors, at least while supplies in the small freezer adjacent to the cashiers remain.
If you’re not among the large camp of us that likes to eat dessert first, I’d suggest you start with Super Chix’s hand-breaded chicken tenders, crispy, crunchy, slightly sweet and seasoned with a light touch of paprika, garlic and onion. Or order the excellent Nashville-style spicy chicken sandwich, a fried chicken breast marinated in hot sauce then dipped again before landing inside a Village Baking Co. bun. Either way, you gotta try the fries, maybe a draft beer (this Super Chix serves beer) and a tall cup of freshly made lemonade.
Then hit the custard.
Super Chix, 14999 Preston Road, Suite 226, Dallas (southwest corner of Preston and Belt Line roads). Open daily from 10:30 a.m. No plans have yet been announced for additional units.